Lots of things this time! Firstly, check out my shiny brand new Facebook page! Nothing interesting or amazing, but it’s something. Secondly, tomorrow is another day of Call of Cthulhu! I’ll be running, as I mentioned before, two scenarios: “The Curse of Chaugnar Faugn” and “Thoth’s Dagger.” The first involves an ex-girlfriend of one of the investigators summoning them for help because her father has become the target of a strange man who hopes to murder him, and the second involves the curse of a dagger that the investigators will come into contact with, leading them all the way to distant Egypt. I will inform you all of the results of the investigator’s (mis)adventures!
And moving back on topic, I have made progress! Not so much in TLOC, only having written two more pages, but I have begun serious work on what I hope will end up being a horror novelette/novella, “Parallax” (to be included in Dark Aeons). As for what exactly I got done, here is the entire first chapter I finished (unedited, so excuse any typos):
“Spontaneous human combustion. Ghost sightings. Sudden death syndrome. Random nausea. Unexplainable terror. Vivid hallucinations. Sudden madness. Unidentified flying objects. Monster sightings. Stigmata. Undefinable substances. Bursting blood vessels. Deadly chills. Sudden disappearances. All of these things, gentlemen, have an explanation, if we so choose to accept it.”
The speaker was an older man, complete with large horn-rimmed spectacles, tweed coat, wild white hair and unkempt beard. He spoke with his hands, gesticulating wildly as he talked, his manic motions helping to illustrate what his articulate words already conveyed rather clearly.
His audience was none too distant from the speaker himself; the youngest of them easily in their fifties. All save one, of course: a young man standing near the back who scarcely could have been more than thirty, neatly dressed in a navy blue suit with a crimson tie. His thin spectacles sat below his eyes, balanced on the tip of his nose, and he peered over them directly at the speaker.
“It is not an easy explanation to accept, I will be the first to admit – it took me many years before I could accept it myself.” The speaker was now pacing slowly back and forth across the speaker’s platform, hands no longer wildly gesticulating, but clasped behind his back. “Professor Sebastian Korig, as I am sure you all know, passed away tomorrow, last year, of one of the phenomena of which I speak.” A few quiet murmurs rippled through the crowd, but they quickly silenced. “It was he who initially proposed the theory to me, but it was only in our last year or so together that I finally came into full acceptance of the theory.
“But on account of his death, I am sure you that you all can see that it is of the utmost importance that we learn to understand these phenomena, discover what causes them, and most importantly – learn how to can prevent them.” The speaker cleared his throat. “And I believe that there are ways to do this, if you will hear my piece.” He paused for a moment and took a deep breath.
“But before I can explain to you how I propose to stop these… occurrences, it must first be explained to you how – or more accurately, why – these things occur.” The man in blue raised an eyebrow at the speaker’s last sentence.
“The explanation is, in fact, far more simple than most of us would imagine – which is why we do not imagine it, and why it does not even present itself as a possibility. Gentlemen, esteemed faculty of the honorable Malacky University, I propose to you today a theory – nay, it is more than a theory – I bring to you an explanation, a light with which to shed illumination on some of the unexplained mysteries of this world.”
There was a dramatic pause here, and the speaker eyed the crowd, taking in their responses. No man there seemed particularly moved, or expressed more than a passing interest in the contents of the old man’s speech. Save, of course, for the man in the back dressed in blue.
“This explanation, which has eluded humanity for so very long, has been before our eyes the entire time – only we have failed to see it. We have caught glimpses at it, sometimes with our eyes, and sometimes with our myriad other senses. More often than not, it is the results that we see, not the cause, and those who do see the cause are not for much longer in this dimension.” The speaker smiled, but it had an unsettling effect rather than a reassuring one.
“Yes, gentlemen, what I am saying is that there are, indeed, multiple dimensions – and I am not speaking here of the dimensions we know – length, width, depth, time, and so on. No, what I am referencing is an older concept of a dimension – a different, separate reality that coexists with our own, yet is for the most part invisible to us, just as our dimension is invisible to those who dwell in our sister, parallel dimension.”
To the speaker’s credit, he had the attention of his audience now – even if it was the amused attention one gave to a rambling madman. “And yes, I am also saying here that there are inhabitants of this parallel dimension, living beings that move and walk and talk and breathe as we do.” He lowered his voice conspiratorially. “I have seen them.”
The speaker unclasped his hands and began again to gesture. “But what, you ask, does this have to do with the unexplained phenomena I listed earlier? Spontaneous human combustion? Sudden death syndrome? Bursting blood vessels? Why, the answer is one word: everything.
“Each and every one of these ‘unexplained’ phenomena can, I argue, be explained in terms of interactions between our two dimensions. When one of these things happens to a member of our dimension, it is the direct result of something from our sister reality making a brief appearance in our world, completely unintentionally, and accidentally inflicting harm.
“The exact circumstances surrounding each of these types of ‘paranormal’ phenomena vary wildly, and these circumstances within each type of phenomena vary just as wildly, which makes it nearly impossible to typify or determine what event, exactly, will trigger one of the listed phenomena. Let us take possibly the most well-known of these pheneomena, for instance: spontaneous human combustion. Someone in this other dimension may be carrying a torch, and if they walk too close to a region where the boundaries between our two planes of existence wears thin, for an instant the torch may exist in two planes at once, or perhaps temporarily – or permanently – become a part of our dimension.
“Most of the time, these intrusions upon our reality are completely – or mostly – harmless. In some rare cases, however, they can become fatal. Let us return to the torchbearer. Say there is a human standing at that point in our dimension where the torchbearer’s torch is as well. As our dimensions share the same space, when that torch shifts dimensions, it will appear in the same place in our dimension. Does anyone here know what happens when a torch suddenly manifests itself in one’s head? Or below one’s arm? Or neck?”
The speaker was rewarded here with a few chuckles. The blue suited man was one of those who did not chuckle, or even smile. He was focused intently on the speaker.
“That’s right – they tend to catch on fire. And that, I say, is one probably cause of spontaneous human combustion. It doesn’t have to be just fire, though. Explosions at certain key weak points in their dimension could have the same effect. Heat as well, or melting metal. Lava flows, magma, molten substances. Stars. Plasma. Lightning. If at the right time, these perfectly natural phenomena could become unnatural and unexplained phenomena in another dimension. Of course, assuming that this is the case, then the phenomena are, in fact, perfectly natural.”
He took a deep breath before continuing. “Other phenomena can be explained in much the same way. Burst blood vessels could be caused by a small surgical device slipping into our realm. Badly placed knives could cause random cuts – stigmata – in innocent passerby. Vehicles in this other dimension could be unidentified flying objects. Or maybe it’s just a volleyball we’re seeing. And unidentified substances – rocks that appear not of this universe, or metals that cannot be destroyed – may be no more than objects that passed through the dimensions and failed to return.” The speaker smiled.
“Ghosts can be just momentary glimpses of these otherworldly beings, or perhaps beings only partially entered into our dimension. Or your brother playing a prank on you.” More chuckles greeted this, and even the blue suited man smiled ever so slightly.
“I am sure by this time that you all understand – you all get the picture. Many – not all, but I believe most – paranormal or unexplained phenomena can be explained by objects from a sister dimension passing through to our own.
“But how do you know this? What evidence, what proof do you have to back up these outrageous claims? Quite a bit, I am pleased to say, thanks to the work of the esteemed professor Korig. You see, he had been working on a device that would allow one to peel back the thin curtain separating our two planes of existence and allowing us to glimpse our sister dimension!” The speaker’s arms were thrown out wide, but the audience made no visible reaction.
The speaker lowered his arms and continued talking. “And I finished the device for him, two months after he passed away. It resembles, to the uneducated eye, a pair of goggles hooked up to a mechanical apparatus. I suppose, at its most basic, that is what it is. But once you slip those glasses over your field of vision, you will be able to see the contours and beings of our sister dimension superimposed over our own!
“Of course, the device itself duplicates a previously known condition, naturally occurring among a few select humans – extra-sensory perception. Those human beings born near weak spots in the dimensional fabric are often ‘touched,’ for lack of a better world, by this alternate reality, and are sensitive to it. That is why these people can see ghosts and phantasms, as they are merely spectral images of those living beside us, but in a separate realm of reality.
“And these people can be used, just like me device can. Armed with the ability to sense the transgressions of alternate dimensions into our own, they can be a warning signal. We can employ them as guardians, to prevent many of these things from happening, and getting others out of harm’s way – sort of an extra-sensory police force, if you will.
“If you, honorable faculty of Malacky University, choose to grant me this… well, grant – then I can streamline the device so that it can be carried by one person, and make it ten times more effective. In addition to helping to prevent these terrible, previously unexplained accidents, these devices will open up a whole new avenue of research and exploration, and perhaps lead to even more innovative technologies!
“Are there any questions?”
Two or three hands went up. The speaker called upon the closest man.
“Yes, doctor Fortworth?”
“Did you bring the device with you?”
The speaker wrung his hands. “Ah… no. It is too bulky at the moment to transport. That is why I need the grant – so that the thing can be transported.”
“So we are supposed to take, completely on faith, this… frankly, utterly ridiculous theory you have of alternate dimensions and weak points that cause strange accidents that, in all honesty, no one particularly cares about?”
“The theory is not ridiculous, professor. It is backed up by evidence!” The speaker walked over to his desk and pulled off a sheaf of papers. Waving them in the air, he continued. “I have written reports here! Lab records, illustrations, everything!”
Another man in the audience stood. “I am sorry, doctor Reinhouer, but we shall need more than that.” He cleared his throat. “And if you will excuse us, it is getting rather late, and many of us have classes to teach tomorrow – not excluding yourself. The board shall review all of the applicants for the grant, and will announce its decision within the week. Good night to you all.”
As the speaker stood dejected upon his platform, the faculty all stood and walked out one of the four exits, talking cheerfully among themselves. As the audience trickled out, professor Siegfried Reinhouer slowly collected his things and walked out the left front door, looking down at the ground. Following closely behind him was the man in blue.