Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nine Tenths: 3rd Installment

“Do we look like thieves to you?” Garret asked. It was a rhetorical question. One scan of the three travelers showed them to be in remarkably good shape save for the lifeless limb hanging on the younger man. “You have a Watcher with you. She’s strong enough to keep herself and the others with you hidden. I need to see her.”

The boy was genuinely puzzled and offered a reply. “ I don’t even know what a Watcher …,”

Garret cut him off before he could finish opening his hand and gazing at the gun on the boy’s lap. The boy turned the handle of the gun towards his interrogator and willingly gave him the weapon back. “Time is short for both of us, son. You have one among you that can read minds, dream of things that happen days later, things like that, right?”

This time the boys eyes looked toward the ground as he spoke and the tell was obvious to everyone in the room. “No. No, we don’t”

Garrett had to keep himself from smiling the wry smile that had a knack for making everyone in the room nervous. “You really can’t lie for shit, but I respect you for looking after your own. Now, normally I’m a fair man…um…what’s your name.”

The boy replied almost instinctively, “Kevin”, then put his hand to his mouth; an embarrassing afterthought.

Garret leaned in and put the gun into its holster. “Kevin, I’m a fair man, when I have the time, but right now I have eight minutes. Eight minutes doesn’t give a man time to be fair. In eight minutes the things you have been hiding from will be here, and without your friend’s gifts we, you me, my friends and yours, will die.”

Garret was looking the young man in the eyes; eyes that still had hope even if it believed it remote. The boy sighed and returned Garret’s stare as he hesitantly opened his mouth, painfully searching for the words to betray his own sister. He was spared the humiliation as a low moan filled the room. It sounded inside their heads and a million miles away at the same time. It could have come from a child or a mad animal but either way, it sought to disorient it’s audience, displacing itself like a ventriloquist’s stage trick. Joe tilted his head and brought a small vial of yellow brown liquid out from inside of his overcoat. He raced to a nearby window, it’s stained glass long broken and replaced with the ugly black rot of old wood. He winced as he shifted his weight to stand on the tips of his toes bringing the small glass to catch the moonlight. “ Five minutes, brother. They’re making good time tonight!”

Garret looked down at his watch, shook his head and turned toward the now empty pew. “That went well. “ He could see the outline of the boy racing down the hall, back towards the safety of the basement retreat. The teen was so thin that his clothes hung off of him as though they weighed more than he did. Chris thought he resembled a marionette, almost defying gravity as if the air itself supported his frame. One thing was for sure though, he was quicker than the three had given him credit for and they were almost out of time.

The vial had begun to pulsate an unearthly green when the moonlight had struck it but the glow now subsided as Joe gave it toss, caught it, and swung it into his inner pocket in one deft movement. He threw his thumb over his shoulder, gesturing to the hallway and said, “I’ll go get him, he’s just scared.

Garret shook his head disapprovingly and grabbed the twin pistols from his belt. “No time. We make our stand now.” He was worried, but he had lived worried ever since the incident. It was one thing to know that death is the wild card in the race, it was another to hear the pounding of his cleats against the track every waking moment of your life. Garret chased off his fear and uncertainty with routine as he checked the clips of the 9 mms. Death was moving to the inside and gaining on him. He looked up at Joe who was doing his best with one arm and whistled between his teeth to get his attention. “ I don’t suppose our neighbors downstairs had any brownbottle on them, did they.”

Joe hung his head, he knew what was next. “If I asked, I can’t remember. After the boobytrapped door and the smell that came with it, I sorta lost focus...” He was remaining calm, but the thought of what lay ahead twisted his stomach and churned his nerves.

“That’s too bad.” Joe was as tough as any 22 year old could be, but everyone had their limits, and endorphins could only get you so far. He stepped toward the younger man, still checking the clips, his head down, but steady. Joe took a deep breath and turned towards the window. Somehow he knew if he saw the man do what he had to do, he would learn to hate him. Pain was often a catalyst for hate in Joe’s world and he didn’t want to hate this man. Joe managed a false grin and a half-chuckle, “Guess we best get it done then, eh?”

Garret put his pistols away and put a hand on Joe’s shoulder. “I guess we best.”

A voice blasted from the back of the room and both men turned as the boy named Kevin entered, a young girl with a cream colored nightgown to his left, an older boy in his late teens to his right, and a man presumably in his sixties trailing a few paces behind the group. “Jesus Christ!!! Is that a bone coming outta his arm?”

Garret glared out the boy and nodded, “Yes.”

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nine Tenths: A Horror Novel - 2nd Installment

Garrret laid a small satchel at his feet and replaced a blade to his belt along with the small silver tin that held the coiled cord, it’s hook gleaming sickly with a putrescent yellow liquid. He took a small, embroidered handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the hook clean, then secured it into place on his belt with a small leather snap. He glanced at his watch and turned his eyes toward the younger man to his right who was frantically searching the room, muttering to himself. Garret stiffened and walked toward the man, “how ya doin, Joe?”

“Just trying to get myself together, friend,” the thick Scottish brogue nearly breaking as he winced in pain.

“Alright. Chris, how about you?”

“I’m sorry, I…,” the boy muttered. He was keeping his voice low although it wouldn’t have mattered much in the present situation.

Garrett, held up a hand to silence him as he looked through the knapsack, laying clips and bullets into piles before him. Other instruments were placed neatly to the side, most of which appeared antiquated and many homemade. Shaking his head, he lifted the torn flap of fabric below his knee and grabbed a bottle of water from within the knapsack. The water splashed against the wound and rivulets of blood raced down his calf. Splinters still jutted from his leg and he pulled as many out as quickly as he could before padding the larger cuts with antiseptic also culled from the knapsack. He folded his legs and slowed his breathing. It was a routine the others had seen before, yet each held their breath. Garret’s eyelids fluttered and his left hand jerked spasmodically against his leg. “Chris,” he whispered while simultaneously opening his eyes and flexing his hand, “ eight to ten, in a makeshift basement…closet…green, maybe blue door. They have a Watcher with them. They’re cloaked…unarmed, but there’s something else… Joe, help Chris if he needs it and ask them for some rags and whiskey, if they have it. We’ll need to reset your arm.”

Joe shuddered and made a commitment to press about the whiskey. “C’mon, Chris. I’ll be right behind you.”

“Joe,” Garret called after them, “ We have twenty minutes. No time for an impromptu recruitment.”

Joe nodded as Chris made his way down the hallway turned right at the end. Ten paces down was a blue door with a sign that read “utility closet”. It was unexceptional and had probably been chosen exactly for that reason. He tried the knob only to find it was locked from the inside. The boy lifted a gloved hand and reached inside an inner coat pocket. He brought out two long pins, both worn with various bends and gouges dotting their length. Blowing on the key hole and jerking back when a plume of dust rushed toward him, he brought the pins up and slipped one inside the lock. This was a skill he acquired along his trek with the men. It proved to be as valuable now as the first time and he felt proud of his contribution. That pride turned the corners of his mouth upward into a sly smile as the first tumbler clicked. Another two turns and the knob gave up.

Another click sounded, almost inaudibly, and it was Joe’s face that flashed with recognition, but he did not smile. He shot out with his good arm and grabbed a handful of jacket spinning himself and the boy around, shielding him and forcing them both against the opposite wall. A gust of air raced down the back of his neck and a hard metal clang echoed through the hall. Instinctively, he twisted his other arm around and let out a cry as it popped from the movement. Falling to his knees, pain racked his body and he vomited as the boy looked on in disbelief.

A bed frame with box springs had been turned into an instrument of torture worthy of the Inquisition. Blades, crudely welded to the frame, juxtaposed in a million angles, now dug into the floor inches from where they had once stood. A clump of hair clung to a long jagged spike letting the pair know of its prior successes. Joe wiped his mouth with his sleeve and pulled the boy behind him pushing a panel on the rear of the closet. It opened, and as it did, the smell of stale sweat and rotten food rose to meet them.

Garrett kneeled before the pulpit. It had been spray painted and it looked as though someone had tried to take an ax to it. He ran his fingers along the deep gashes in the wood. Each grain that wound its way through the texture of the stained oak sent a memory up through the tips of his fingers, flinging his mind back to the house on Hoover Avenue with the purple door; the purple door, the gun, and all the blood. Blood. He was bleeding. The splintered wood had lodged itself in his hand and the blood was pooling at the base of the pulpit making it look more like a pagan alter than a testament to the Christian God. Garrett wheeled around to the sound of footsteps as a drop of blood spilled from is index finger and splashed on the toe of his boot.

Three figures stumbled into the cathedral hall and Garrett’s eyes fell on the new addition. A young boy stood in the middle tapping his foot anxiously and scanning the room with such nervous energy that he looked as if he might explode where he stood. His eyes bulged from his sockets and the other men wandered how long it had been since the gaunt face had seen a decent meal. His fingers twitched and he wiped his nose and coughed into his hand. Garrret motioned towards Joe, who was standing behind the Youngman, and he tapped Chris on the arm and pointed to an overturned pew a few feet way. The boy, if the walking skeleton actually resembled that anymore, felt the upturned pew touch the back of his legs and Garret took a step towards him slowly, considerate of the boy’s distrustful looks. “I’m asking you to sit, but it won’t be for long.” At this, Garrett withdrew one of the Glock’s from his belt and handed it to the youth. “This evens up the odds a little, don’t you think?”

Joe, poised to draw his own gun if necessary, waited for the boy’s reaction, and fell at ease as he picked up the piece, but held it in both hands, never bringing his fingers close to the trigger. The boy looked up, his demeanor had changed slightly, but the look of distrust was still there, and neither the men, nor Chris could blame him. “We don’t have anything to take.” There was no inflection, just a tired resignation.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nine Tenths: A Horror Novel

So my intention for the better part of two years now has been to finish the horror novel I have been writing. I am not a writer by education or talent, but I love the horror genre and I do feel as though I have a story that I want to tell. Those elements have proven to be enough to get me to occasionally sit down and push out a few paragraphs when the mood takes me. Aside then from our regular blogs on the paranormal, movies, or whatever strikes our fancy I will be uploading a few pages here and there from my unfinished novel I have titled Nine Tenths. Hopefully this will incite me to finish what I started and maybe I can get enough feedback to help me in the process. Thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoy my freshman effort.


Nine Tenths

Chapter 1

The farm had yielded a comfortable return less than just 3 years ago, but now the brittle husks rasped in the night like ghosts. It was ravaged, dead, and the sickly brown corpses that inhabited the field barely swayed mourning the golden kernels of corn that had once shone over the 5 acre plot. Four silhouettes were making their way through the field, more quietly than could be expected for their speed; only their labored breathing marked their haste, and even that was trained and executed within reason.

“Fuck.” The curse, an intrusion in the silence, was spat out as a stick, pointed enough at one end just to be dangerous dug itself into the lead silhouettes’ calf. The man, more of a robot in his calculated movements, shifted his weight and brought his left arm down to his side in one movement, grabbing the lance and yanking it out. A crimson arc, lit by the crescent of the moon sprayed into the air as the splinter was flung from the wound. Another man fell as the first regained his momentum. The point man, tossing the blood glazed broken stick turned to witness a pair of leathery wings shoot into the sky, the downed man in tow, half held, half impaled by the creature, now aloft against the stars, racing towards his death.

The hole in his calf almost now a memory, new threats had caste their shadows against the glow of the horizon and the man known as Garrett swung his arms backward like sickles slicing through the air. The sheen of steal danced along the barrels as bullets popped from the twin chrome Glock 9’s. The bullets tore through the wings like paper and man and devil flipped through the air, an absurd parody of aerial ballet. A third man, positioned between the ragtag troop’s leader and the spot where his best friend had been seconds before, wheeled around and focused his eyes on the black night over his head. A shadow displaced the stars and the man reached out to catch the body, only to be thrust backward by a loud pop and a searing pain racing up from his elbow. The body of his friend lay at his feet, one foot nestled against his left cheek in a gruesome knot.

“Frankie’s dead. Get on your feet.” The voice was not callous or uncaring, but the urgency could be mistaken for indifference. Garret grabbed the man under his left arm and started to drag him forward, trying desperately to break into a run, even with the dead weight pushing gravity mercilessly against him. The younger man, his face pale with shock, was also struggling to get to his feet. His right arm dangled lifelessly at his side. Garret, the older of the two by over twenty years, brought the man to his feet and almost simultaneously brandished a serrated blade from his belt. Without looking he delivered a short chop to the air above his head. A foot to his right a taloned finger over six inches long fell against the browned grass of the knoll overlooking the edge of the field. A screech fell against the men so shrill their hearing stuttered in their own heads like a radio station struggling to retain reception. In front of them the small slender figure that had been pacing the group raced ahead.

“My arm…I can’t feel it” the younger man mused, the shock draining the inflection from his voice.

“That’s because you almost broke it off.” Garret could only half concentrate on the query of the man behind him. A small structure, a square with an arch pointed to the heavens, lay in the distance beyond the knoll. There were no lights accompanying it, but he could tell there were bodies there, huddled somewhere within its interior. That was secondary, however.

Primary was the form crisscrossing the sky, causing the moonlight to strobe at their feet as it circled the stray member of their party that had pulled ahead of them. Garret swung the Glocks into their holsters with the ease and grace of a seasoned magician and reached toward the small of his back bringing a small lariat with a hooked head to arms length. He swung the hook and let the slack of the cord lengthen. Flicking his wrist, Garret let loose the hook, aiming above the creature’s prey.

The shadow swooped towards the smaller silhouette, slowing slightly as it dipped with a confident zeal, arrogantly displaying its triumph. As it neared the ten year old boy, the corded hook penetrated its back, square between its wings, burying itself in the sinewy flesh. Garret, feeling a tug as the cord threatened to pull loose, jerked backwards quickly. A wet snap sounded above the boy’s head and an object whirred behind and away from him. Still cradling his arm, Joe Barnes took Garret’s lead and ducked as the glistening spine, tugged free of its host, sailed over their heads.

The boy turned and half jogged backwards waiting for the others to catch up. He knew better than to distance himself from the group, and he was much older than his ten years, old enough to know which words of advice were meant to keep him alive. The church had looked closer and with Joe falling behind, he had put more space between he and the group than he had intended. He scanned the sky, waiting for another assault, but none came. He quickly closed the gap to the edge of the church’s property and started to fumble with the gate when a strong hand gripped his shoulder, making him cover his own mouth for fear of screaming.

“We need to hurry. Here.” As he said this, Garret grabbed the boy under his arms, scooping him up and breaking into a dead sprint towards the church that lay ahead. At ten, the boy was too thin for his age and Garrett could barely feel the weight of the child in his arm. He had carried bulkier weapons with ease and the broadsword sheathed to his back was at least 8 pounds heavier than the boy. The blade had another burden all its own, however.

“No need to knock,” he grunted as he placed a kick below the brass handle of the door splintering the frame. The door swung open a few feet before hitting a tower of chairs that had no doubt served as a makeshift barrier. An ineffective one, however. The interior of the church showed a space that betrayed its humble exterior. Pews lined a long central room and its breadth was wide, almost commanding awe, were it not for the humility within its modest design. It had seen trauma though and several pews lay overturned ripped free from the floor, some still with pieces of hardwood clinging to the bolts that once held them fast in their place. The pulpit had been defaced and the stench of urine made the very air seem heavy and hot.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Is the paranormal a victim of our own “quantum belief”?

The paranormal is a topic that has long persisted not only because of the overwhelming amount of first hand accounts of the bizarre, but because of a leap of faith on the part of those willing to believe. The paranormal, in that regard, is a two way street. So where are we in regards to putting our belief aside and focusing on the science. Likewise where are we in regards to letting ourselves use our subjectivity and passion to fuel our research? More and more I see a great divide in the paranormal community between those willing to believe and those looking for a reason to believe. One question however lingers with me: Does our search for answers and our reliance on specific research techniques actually affect the phenomena in such a way that the evidence is only there because of our belief in the methods we use to acquire it? In other words, do EMF detectors register spikes because we believe they should? If that is the case, we might be looking at a greater problem in environment vs. activity.

The EMF meter or “detector” has become a staple in the ghost hunter’s arsenal. Fluctuations in the electromagnetic field can be both artificial and natural, and can be attributed to such common items as simple household appliances and power sources. Now the average ghost hunter will measure the field around them and, if no artificial source or other source is apparent, assume that a spike on their meter indicates the presence of a spirit. I believe the bulk of the ghost hunting or paranormal investigation community is comprised of intelligent, thoughtful individuals, but I also believe that the origin of the EMF meters role in investigation has been slightly skewed, however.

Let’s take a look at the research of Dr. Michael Persinger. On the surface, Persinger’s findings help to validate the use of EMF meters to detect paranormal activity. Notice however, that I used the phrase “paranormal activity” and not “ghost research.” Persinger’s conclusions state that fluctuations in the electromagnetic field affect the human brain in such a way that it produces sensations that duplicate what is commonly attributed to hauntings or spirit activity. If we are using the work of Persinger and others to reinforce the importance of EMF equipment in the field, then we need to look at the implications as well.

The subatomic universe is constantly changing not only the way that science looks at matter, but also the way that science looks at faith. The ability for perception to actually influence matter, as well as belief, is not a new concept, but the methods that are being observed in the lab are. We can only speculate that the world around us then, is more pliable than we once thought. What about the unseen world around us? I might have to disagree with Persinger on this: his thoughts on EMF are to produce the “appearance” of paranormal, but what if they allow it to happen? What if an EMF spike doesn’t indicate the presence of a spirit, but actually indicates an area where a spirit CAN appear? If this is the case then where does the quantum belief system come in?

Just turn on your tv to any of the myriad of paranormal programs dotting the cable tv landscape and you’ll see any number of ghost hunters talk about “energy”. They’ll even say that spirits “use” energy to manifest. This might be partially true. Spirits, entities or even creatures of a cryptozoological category might indeed need us, but it might not be our “energy”. It might be our faith. If belief influences our reality in ways that we are only beginning to understand, how might it affect what some have deemed the multiverse? Is the increasing use of equipment like the EMF meters actually strengthening our belief that the instrument detects activity and in turn actually augments the phenomena by increasing its very potency? It certainly hasn’t been the first time.

Just recently a National Geographic team used infrasound and suggestion to produce similar results in a control group to simulate the effects reported in a “haunted” abandoned prison. What Nat Geo failed to investigate was the effect of environment, suggestion and infrasound on faith and its impact on matter on the quantum level. We might always be left with a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” scenario, but we are dealing with science and science that is constantly learning about the effect of belief on the physical world. Let’s examine the chicken and the egg on how it pertains to our world and we might better understand how both belief and the pre-existence of the phenomena are both necessary in this hypothesis.

Does our belief in the world then create the world? I think that would not only be a naive assumption but one that would have to rewrite the very definition of reality and matter: a discussion that might rely more on philosophy and theosophy than the paranormal and a somewhat revised scientific method. I think we need to rephrase our initial attempts to explain the quantum belief system and more accurately say that the perception and preformed opinion of the observer augments, intensifies, and even changes the experiment. This allows the existence of the phenomena independent of the human observer (sorry, Shrodinger), but also clearly defines the observer’s role in the activity.

Do EMF detectors work then? The answer might actually lie in the rephrasing of the question: Do you believe they work?