Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Paranormal Psychology, Part 10

I looked around me to find that I'd only been out for a few minutes. I was covered in dust and relics, all of which looked to be Celtic in origin. The bookcase I had hit hadn't fallen down, I had simply smashed into it and knocked the shelves down. In front of me a small, bone-handled hair comb lay among the wreckage but in a small clearing where no other relics touched it. It was threaded through with a slim, silken lock of hair. It was also broken in two. Next to it lay a small nameplate that read "Specimen A: bean sĂ­dhe".

"Huh." I said, the half-word sounding lame in the silence and dust. I noticed then that there was the sound of soft shuffling, as if shoe-less feet were being drug across the rugged classroom floor. I turned and saw a young man, eyes rolled back into his head, stumbling towards me down the book aisle, arms limp at his sides. He stumbled into the bookshelf on his left, and suddenly the lights went down again. He must have hit the pressure plate.

I turned around and began my flight anew. I pulled out my cellphone again and, to my relief this time I could see the end of the aisle even in the dim light. The sound of my footfalls rang out against the ground as the far wall grew closer and closer and finally I turned the corner. Before me was the door that led to the stairwell that Abode had indicated earlier as the way to his office. I entered with only mild trepidation as I heard the shuffling sounds grow louder.

Bruised from the fall, tired from a crazed sprint across campus, bewildered by the events surrounding my flight, I was less than enthused upon seeing the several flights of stairs ahead of me. I hadn't, however, run this far and endured this much to be overtaken by a couple thousand shuffling college students. Dug in and determined, I began my jog up the stairs.

Ten flights up, I paused my jog up the stairs, with seemingly thousands of flights left to go. I took a breather as only one hounded by thankfully stair-inept zombie-students could. Sitting down on the stairs, I looked down to see that my pursuers had begun climbing on one another after one too many trips on the stairs, but had reached an impasse when their numbers had succeeded in blocking the entrance to the stair well. I sighed as I watched this, shaking my head sadly.

At this point, I became aware of a sound distinct from the clamor of silent bodies climbing over one another that was coming from below. This sound was the sound of a sharp krak against the hard-surfaced stairs, which I suddenly realized were made of marble. It was coming from above, so I turned my head up. Above, Abode was walking down the stairs haltingly, a cane in one of his hands. His head was bowed, and as he came closer I realized he held a book in his hand as he walked and from the sound of it was reading aloud to himself.

"...and if your mind on urgent truth is set, need you go hunting for an epithet?" were the words he was mumbling when he came within earshot. He almost walked by, completely oblivious to the sounds below or the fact that I was sitting on the step he was passing, but I spoke up.

"Professor Abode? Excuse me?" I said, feeling quite foolish for the way I was starting this conversation. He looked taken aback, and peered down at me.

"Ah, be ye... Oh! Mr. Tham! I didn't recognize you for a second there." The professor said, his voice changing from an odd accent mid-sentence. "What brings you to my humble staircase?"

"Um..." I mumbled ineffectually, pointing downwards to the thronging mass of college students. Abode peered over the edge quizzically. He looked quite piqued for a second, but regained his composure nicely.

"I see."

Paranormal Psychology, Part 9

She didn't respond. We kept running, with me getting more and more out of breath and Alyx getting faster and taking bigger strides. This bookshelf aisle seemed almost impossbily long. One wouldn't expect to be able to sprint down one of these, much less run long enough to get out of breath.

"Seriously, I need an answer, Alyx! Where are we going?" I exclaimed, this time in gasps.

"Away." Alyx replied, her voice resounding in my head more than in my ears. It began to vibrate in my head, like the sound of a microphone catching it's own sound from the speakers and going back and forth louder and louder and deeper. I almost stumbled at this, slowing to a pace and then a standstill. I shook myself a bit, trying to clear my mind of the reverberating noise. When I looked up, Alyx was standing incredibly close, looking at me questioningly. "Why're you running?"

"Um, because you were?" I said, and Alyx grinned, showing off her amazing array of sharply pointed teeth. "Oh, wrong answer..." She said, her voice slowly changing to an oddly familiar gruff brogue, "...boyo."

"Shit." That was the one word I could eek out before being struck entirely speechless by Alyx's features melding into a twisted charicature of a human. I was starting to get used to this kind of thing happening, so by the time her fingers were becoming claws I had jumped back. However, I wasn't quite as used to it as I hoped and ended up tumbling into a bookcase, hitting my head rather hard. Hard enough that I don't remember what happened next, except that there was a sharp, piercing scream. After that, darkness.

When I came to, all I could remember was one word, spoken in a British accent.


Paranormal Psychology, Part 8

His face followed the motion of the coin. That string of words details the bare physical details of what happened, but I cannot do justice to the feeling of sheer dread I felt when I saw this. I had hidden the coin from sight the entire time I had been back to the dorm. He had no way of knowing what was under the cup, and no way to know how much this would freak me out. There was no way Peter was just joking.

"If you're pulling a prank on me, Peter, I swear to all that exists..." I said, inching closer to the cup. Surreptitiously I slipped the coin into my right hand while my left arm obscured what I was doing. His face still followed it, the dead stare continuing with my hand as I moved it slowly behind my back. Facing him, I began to edge around him. He followed me. Backing away from him, I felt for the door handle, and as I did so almost tripped over the chair sitting in front of the TV in my dorm room. Grimacing from my newly stubbed toe, I kept my eyes on Peter, who kept dully staring at me. My hand clasped the door handle and began turning it slowly, opening the door without a sound. Peter began to move after me, his footsteps drawing him closer so that he was only a few feet away.

As he began to move, I went into action, grabbing the chair that I had almost tripped over and pulling it with me to keep a barrier between me and my zombified roommate. I threw the door open, moved swiftly around it, and turned. I broke out in a cold sweat when I saw what was before me; the entirety of the dorm, all seemingly awake, stood out in the hall, staring blankly at me as I had emerged. Behind me I heard a thump and then the soft raking sound of Peter's hands numbly pawing at the door. My hands trembling, I dropped the coin into my pocket, and suddenly went through the incredibly awkward experience of watching as the entire zombified population of one's dorm lowered their gaze to one's groin. I know it sounds corny, but I most definitely heard the familiar sound of sepulchral laughing in the distance.

What can I say? I bolted.


I kept running until I could see the looming shape of the Fjord building in the distance, and even then only slowed to catch my breath. Out of shape as I was, I wasn't about to let much distance close between me and the horde of shadowy figures that had swarmed around me as soon as I came out of my dorm. This was around the point that I actually turned to look back and began feeling extremely silly. Whatever had caused this massive bout of somnambulism had not bestowed any sense of urgency to its victims, apparently, as I was out of sight of anything that had been following me. Sucking each breath in, I began to laugh between gasps, at myself, at the world, at the coin.. Of course, then I saw the surging wave of figures in the distance crest the hill between the Fjord building and the dorms.

Needless to say, I sprinted the distance to the library in record time. I found the makeshift classroom-library darkened and empty, which, while expected, served only to make me more paranoid.

"Hello? Anyone in here?" I said, feeling terribly cliche as I groped around for the light switch. I found it, and to my dismay flicking it up did nothing to the lights themselves. I took out my cellphone, using it as a makeshift flashlight, and subsequently felt terribly spooked out by the outlines of the classroom's desks against the ground. I made my way to the middle of the room, and then suddenly remembered something I noticed the professor had done earlier. Moving towards the right side of the board, I stepped on the bookshelf's lowest shelf, and it depressed gently. The lights flickered on, and I let a self-satisfied smile grace my face.

Looking through the dusty tomes as I walked down the bookshelf's aisle toward the back, where Abode had said his office was, my eyes flitted from book to book. I began to realize something off; the books were beginning to give way to little figurines and statues, along with bas reliefs and fractured tablets that seemed like the kind you might find in a museum. I shrugged, assuming it was just a collection the professor had accumulated for the class.

However, one set of figurines in particular caught my eye. Each one looked oddly familiar and rather recent acquisitions, despite the dust that seemed to have gathered around them. They looked almost like modern action figures, attired as if they were from around the present. I held one in my hand, which seemed to be in the image of a dark-haired young man wearing sunglasses. My eyes widened with shock when I realized that I had seen that young man earlier today in class. The entire set of figurines consisted of every single student that had signed the course syllabus in the class... except for me. I couldn't help but let loose a small yelp of surprise, and suddenly I sensed motion behind me.

I whirled around. Suddenly I found myself eye-to-eye with the dark-clothed woman from earlier, Alyx. You can imagine that I was at a loss for words.

"Hullo, squire. Follow me, if you would." She said, her smile wide and showing rather alarmingly pointed teeth. Don't get me wrong when you hear that. I'm not saying she had some piddling sharpened canines. I'm saying she had a mouth that Jaws would have been proud of. Alyx sprung into motion, bounding down the aisle. Hearing the sound of plodding feet down the way I had come, I less-than-eagerly followed, trying to keep up with her swift strides. This proved less than easy.

"Excuse me, but where are you taking me?" I said, with little hope for a good answer.

Paranormal Psychology, Part 7

The slim woman bowed low and gracefully to the class. As she straightened back up she smiled at each one of us in turn and then winked at Professor Abode. Abode harrumphed disapprovingly at her, obviously trying hard not to smile.

"Nice to meet you, class. You see, this ole' codger here is growin' barmy in his tenure as a professor at his dear ole' university." She laughed airily. "Couldn't 'ave gotten away with that one when I was one o' yours, could I? Seems 'e needs some young blood to keep the flow goin' in class, if you get my drift. It's a bit daft, if you ask me, but the pay's good, and who can resist an offer from such a charming old man, eh?" Alyx said, her eyes dancing around the room.

"Yes, yes, very good, Alyx. You can go back to working the lights now." Abode said dismissively. Alyx bowed again and slid out of sight behind a bookcase. "Now, students, each of you will need to take a syllabus and read it over thoroughly and sign it. Next class will be at 6 PM sharp, I expect this to be acceptable to all your schedules. Now if you'll turn to page 6 of the syllabus... and before you do, I'd just like to say, if anything odd or disturbing happens to you outside of class, I would like you to report it ot me as soon as possible..."


The rest of the class went by formally and typically, and I felt almost as if only a couple of minutes had passed by the time that Abode dismissed the class. Walking back across campus, I couldn't help but feel a sense of excitement to see what possible task we could be leading up to. My mind racing with storylines from mystery novels and occult fantasy movies, by the time I had gotten back to my dorm I had decided upon something along the lines of ghost hunting. Slightly disappointed that all this to-do would end with something so mundane, I left the expectations to be played out in my dreams. Despite my roommate normally being of the nocturnal sort, when I got to my bed on the top bunk, my roommate was already asleep. I had no trouble following him in this endeavor.


I woke up during the night, suddenly, and could have sworn I heard my alarm going off. My alarm clock flashed '12:00 AM' in glowing green symbols, reminding me of a un-programmed VCR. I sat up to check it, and jumped under the sheets of my bed upon noticing a rather disturbing sight.

"Uh, Peter...?" My roommate Peterwas standing next to the bed silently, facing my bedstand.

After the shock of surprise faded, I realised he must be sleepwalking or something. I reach over from the top bunk to wave a hand in front of his face to make sure of this. I snapped my fingers twice, to no avail. He seemed to be out cold, unresponsive to the things I was doing. Quite unnerved by the sight of him like this, I moved down from the top bunk and walked over to see what he seemed to be looking at.

"Peter, this isn't funny..." I said, uncertain of what to do. He was facing my bedstand, face angled directly to be looking at the coffee cup I had gotten the from the strange customer at my workplace. I moved around him, looking him in the face, and immediately pulled back. His eyes were open, but completely glazed over, giving him an extremely zombie-like appearance. I shuddered, inching towards the coffee cup. I dreaded the implications of what I was about to make sure of, so as my hand reached for the cup it shook mightily. I lifted up one side of the cup tentatively. Just as I had expected, a hint of mercurial silver gleamed from underneath. The lip of the styrofoam closed over it again, and I stood there for awhile, my mind racing. Certainly I'm just jumping to conclusions at this point, I thought.

To test this, I slid the cup up and gently nudged that cursed coin out from underneath with the edge.

Paranormal Psychology, Part 6

You might want to read the finished version of part 5 before reading this one.

I began to suspect the professor of having a hobby somehow involving penmanship as I looked at the beautifully written letters emblazoned across the board. Abode smirked at the class, and then began to pace to the right of the board. Suddenly, the lights went dark, and the board was lit up by the activation of the small projector which had gone unattended for quite awhile in the midst of the desks.

"For this class, I will need you all to take notes and pay attention as I explain the task I will be giving to you. This course is intended to be a problem-based study and analysis of paranormal psychology and the events surrounding it." He said, the board displaying images of old crypts and ancient ruins, some of which I recognized from my history studies. "You are all expected to work together as a cohesive group in these undertakings which may eventually lead to you exploring areas in the field with proper equipment." A laser pointer appeared in his hand, and the red dot traced from one image to another as he spoke.

"This is not for the light of heart or for the unquestioning. Dull minds are useful in society, but not for academic inquiry. The field of paranormal psychology is a mentally taxing one as it does require the participants to put themselves, consistently, in uncomfortable situations where the basic elements of mankind's belief structures are constantly under attack." The board began showing pictures of news articles with headlines like 'Ten Flayed in Broad Daylight' and 'Town Population Mysteriously Disappears Overnight'. "If any of you are going to have difficulty keeping an open mind and a calm temper during such events, you can leave now and discuss transfer to a normal psychology class with the Dean."

The lenses of Abode's glasses flashed in the darkness as he waited for any of us to get up and leave. No one moved. The projector dimmed, and the lights went up again.

"Good. Now, I know you have all agreed to the NDA via email that was sent earlier to invite you to this class, but as a legal precaution and a method of making this all seem a bit more realistic to you all, I need you to sign the course syllabus. There's a copy for each of you on top of the projector."

Just as the professor said this, the student next to the projector yelped.

"I, uh... Those weren't there earlier." Said the sunglasses-wearing student, looking at the small pile of paper that sat on top of the projector as if it were a snake coiled to strike.

"Oh?" Abode said, a hint of humor in his voice. "Perhaps you simply didn't notice them, Mr. Allan."

"No, you don't get it. I remember everything about every room I enter. Those weren't there earlier." Allan said, his voice shaking a bit. "I have eidetic memory."

"I see. Fascinating. I think I once wrote an article on people like you." Abode said, his face pensive.

"Yes. You did. It was titled 'Eidetic Memory: Psychic Battery?'" The student responded, turning towards Abode. "You went into great detail about how you had done a study on people like me, saying that our brains hold imprints of every psychic impression and situation we experience and record, in essence, the mental state of everyone we have ever met. You said we could be used as a sort-of psychic repository, able to serve as a conduit any person's psyche using the psychic impression from our past, under the right conditions. It's why I agreed to this class."

"Oh, yes. I remember that. I got a lot of letters from people thinking they could talk to their dead relatives and friends through eidetikers. Quite entertaining." Abode laughed, shaking his head.

"This doesn't quite explain the mysterious case of the magically appearing course syllabi, now does it?" The blonde student said, his smarminess returning slowly. Abode considered this and nodded.

"Ah, well. I seem to have been caught with my hand in the cookie jar, as it were." Spoke a light and breezy voice, tinged with a slight British accent. A lean feminine form, clad in dark, unassuming clothing, stepped out from one of the aisles of bookcases.

"Class, I'd like to introduce you to one of my former students. Meet Alyx."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Habit-Forming, part 1

For but a moment did he hesitate, blinking in the sunlight, before the man stepped out of the building. His head high about most, and his fram thing and light, the man stood like a piercing claw in the stark open space. Clad in a tan suit which seemed to accentuate his near skeletal form, he ran a hand over his black, slicked-back hair and then slid it across his darkly-skinned cheek to tap against his chin as he squinted against the sunlight. He spotted a small, metal bench sitting snugly between trashcans and an ashtray against the building and immediately began to make his way to the safety of a place to sit.

Coughing briskly into his hand, he withdrew a small, thin cigarette from his coat pocket and lit it, letting the smoke drift lightly into the open air and mix with the city aromas. He took a long, smooth drag, sighing it out in time with the sound of an oncoming shuttle on an upper platform from where he sat.

"Thought I'd quit these damn things when I got this job." He said, but it was difficult to tell if he was referring to the cigarettes or the entire experience of waiting in an airport. The tall, morose man scratched his chin where there used to be stubble just this morning and took another drag from the cigarette, his eyes flitting from car to car of the passing shuttle.

The Proposition and Update Note

I have been away on a very long trip and I am still recovering. However, good news! I wrote during the trip! So I shall be posting these pieces as I go along. I hope to finish up at the 30 mark, and keep going.



If I were to be found out,
To be seen as the Husk,
The collected remnants of the books,
Minds, and places, upon which my thoughts gnaw, mull over,
And swallow whole in due time,
Of which make up this dessicated Shell,
Would I be found wanting?

Would the thought-elements,
Which make up the bones,
And piecemeal experience,
Which makes up the meat,
And morsels of witticisms,
Which house this phantasmal cargo,
Be weighed on a Grand scale,
How would the Balance tip?

By what Authority,
Measure, Oath,
Value, or Taxonomy
Would this "mercurie philosophique",
Sought after thought it is by
The best and the least,
The philosophes and alchemists,
Be judged?

Who could gave this power
To disect, examine,
To pierce decay, facade,
As if an architect of monumental
And metaphysical caliber,
To discern and, in the case of hubris,
To demean,
With total, immacculate accuracy?

For who could claim the domain,
To which poets ascribe the Divine
And Savages ascribe the Land,
In total honesty, to reality,
And all therein?

Or what,
Can claim the Final Judgement?

The Grand Epilogue
Shall hold the Exposition,
Lest Reality itself be found