And it's whispered that soon, if we all call a tune, then the piper will lead us to reason.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

In which shit gets real.

It's been almost three days since my last post, and almost two since I thought my next one was going to be. I apologize for not signing in sooner, but I was kind of stranded in the middle of the desert.

More on this in a bit.

I left the house early to avoid traffic (9 by my estimate). If I was going all the way up to LA, at least I was going to make a day of  it. Well, traffic was surprisingly sparse, and it only took me an hour or so to get into the downtown area. Got some hotdogs at a place that sells authentic Detroit Coneys, took some pictures of the Walk of Fame, gawked at some of the few impressive buildings in the city, you know, typical touristy stuff. LA is near enough that anything but driving is impractical, but far enough away that makes driving there kind of a big deal.

Five o'clock came, and I decided to hurry up and get "the exposition" over with.

It was a hot Thursday, and everyone, it seems, was out enjoying the park, probably reading their atrophied walking muscles for this weekend. My first thought was "Chances are, I won't get mugged by someone or hassled by any insanity inducing horrors from beyond space. There's so many people here that either would have no where to hide." My second thought, however was, "There's so many people here that any potential mugger or eldritch horrorbeast would actually have a pretty easy time hiding."

In the middle of the park, there's a fountain. It was also the most crowded spot, as it makes quite the good landmark and gathering point. From the Google Maps picture, it also looks a bit like a compass rose. The closer I got to the fountain, the denser the crowd became, most of them were busy chattering about the new dinosaur exhibit at the natural history museum.  Gradually the conversations tended to shit towards the subject of "The crazy dude in the horse mask handing out fliers."

And sure enough, sitting on the fountain edge was someone wearing a bedsheet, a sandwich board, and one of those latex horse masks that are so popular as of late.

It was the stack of fliers he was handing out that interested me most. Yes, it had the same picture as the ones I had previously received. The Hermit, lantern raised to illuminate a great big IX floating just inches in front of him. On the sandwich board was not any of the typical "The end is Nigh" or any sort of biblical doom verses, but simply.

"He comes!

If you're reading this, I'll trust that you've seen Marble Hornets, or that you know who M is. If you have even a modicum of knowledge about the "the Slender Man," I am going to assume that you've seen this symbol before. A circumscribed X. As ubiquitous in this community as the crescent is in Mecca. And yet, until that moment, it was nothing more than a vaguely mysterious symbol posted on blogs and forums, and not a concrete drawing looking through its cross shaped pupil right at me. I wanted to turn around and pretend I didn't see it, but I knew I couldn't. They'd find me anyway. I was going down, I wasn't going to go down with a bullet in my back.

I walked over and grabbed a leaflet from the possibly comatose prophet of doom. He didn't respond, and only his raspy breathing alerted me to the fact that there was a living being under the latex and cotton.

On the back of the flier, instead of the short, handwritten messages was a fully typed (from a typewriter by the looks of it) message. I don't have access to a scanner right now, but here it is, typos and all.

"He comes!
To Babylon he came.
For our children to Paradice
Clense this IMPURE with holy flame
(the next couple of lines were too blurred to read due to the fact that the paper was soaked and the ink was starting to run.)
And it's whispered that soon, if we all call a tune, then THE PIPER will lead us to reason.
And a new day will don for those who stand long, and the forsest will echo with laughter.


I read it probably about five times before I finally asked the equine masqued gentleman what the fuck this was all about.
His response: "He comes"
"Oh, I guessed as much, but what is 'He'"
"He comes."
"And who is this nine guy."
"He's here."

At this point, I felt something hard pressed against my back and a muffly echoed voice that smelled strongly of latex and halitosis whispered in my ear, "Your car. Now."

I've lived in the suburbs my whole life. There's not a safer place on the planet outside a bubblewrap factory. I've never had, what I had assumed was a gun, pointed at me. I've never even seen a real gun before. Now, seeing as I am typing this right now, you know I get out of this fine. And I certainly know now that thing's were going to be fine, but if I went back in time and said to myself, "hey, don't worry." I definitely would not have believed me. And generally, the most advice anyone can even think about giving you for these kinds of situations is "cooperate. At least you get a 50% chance." And so, I walked him to my car, trying as hard as I could not to look like I was being held at gunpoint, trying as hard as I could not to shake or to start hyperventilating, not daring to turn around and look at who this guy was.
When we got there, he handed me a brown paper bag."You got this until we get you a real one. Now, put it on your head, hand me the keys, get in the passenger's seat, and shut up."
Well, so much for not getting a bullet in the back.

The next few hours, we drove. No words, just driving. I did not ask him if he was going to pay for my window, let alone my gas. I just hoped that when we stopped, I wasn't going to have to get out, and dig a ditch, and wait until he made pico de gallo with the back of my head. Utter silence, until. "You've got it on backwards, dumbass." It took me a second for me to realize he was talking about the bag. I turned it around, and found that it had a pair of holes cut for eyes. My hostage taker was a tall, almost emaciate thin guy in a black, Metallica hoodie and a V mask.

Now, I know Anonymous has been pulling some extreme stunts as of late, but this was getting ridiculous. Also, when I noticed that his gun was actually a clear, plastic airsoft gun, I figured if it was safe to ask him if I could check in with my parents.

"Yeah, sure. Just don't say you've been kidnapped." I told them I was probably going to spend the night at a friend's house.

It had been dark for sometime by the time we stopped. I had no idea where we were, but at least I didn't think I was going to get executed in cold blood anymore.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In which I have some reservations.

You might even say that I have reservations in both senses of the term. An appointment and an apprehension.
As of this writing, it's a quarter past two in the morning. I haven't been able to sleep for the past couple of days. Ever since I've started this blog, in fact. Maybe it's coincidence. I've been going through some rough bits that, believe it or not, have very little to do the occult. That is, unless there's a cult of pretentious douches that have hypnotic powers over girls that I just happen to have crushes on at the time.
Take the vowels out of FEMALE, and what's that spell?

My dad also received a bit of bad news today. I won't go into it, as it's kind of personal and familial, but either way, money is now, somehow, even tighter, and my hatred for capitalism has, somehow, grown even more vehement.

The day before yesterday, I plunked myself right in front of my computer and spent the day reading Zen koans. I shared a few with AJ, who warned me that that these sort of things are going to melt my brain. 

Let's take a look at a few:

Huìnéng asked Hui Ming, "Without thinking of good or evil, show me your original face before your mother and father were born."

A monk asked Dongshan Shouchu, "What is Buddha?" Dongshan said, "Three pounds of flax."

A monk asked Zhaozhou, "What is the meaning of Bodhidharma's coming from the west?" Zhaozhou said, "The cypress tree in front of the hall."

Brain oozing our your ears yet? Don't worry, that's just the enlightenment kicking in! The point of a Koan is that there really are no answers. You just ponder them and ponder them until something clicks, and you either reach Nirvana, or go insane. It's like Cthulu in word form.

So in a few hours, I'm going to be gallivanting off to Los Angeles, on the eve of what the news promises to be a logistical nightmare of apocalyptic proportions.

I've always had mixed feelings about Los Angeles (Mozilla's spell check doesn't even recognize it as a real word). On one hand, it's kind of the dominating exporter of culture where I live, which is kind of cool. I mean, what better place for a guy who wants to entertain people for a living to live then less than an hour's drive away from Hollywood? On the other hand, it's a dull and ugly city with little soul or life of its own, not to mention having probably the most uninspiring skyline of any major metropolis. One of the few really unique aspects of LA is how it was built around car culture. There is no "walking distance" to anything. You drive! That is an order! No subways, no EL trains, no cable cars, and hardly a buss fleet worth speaking of to help you, just drive, drive, drive!

I know this rant is kind of out of left field, but it's 2:30 in the morning. Also I'm going to be stuck out there the day before one of the two major arteries in and out of a city where everyone drives is going to be shut down. Carmageddon, indeed!

Or maybe I'm just saying this to avoid thinking about the fact that I'm going to a place I've never been to meet a person (or persons) I've never seen, nor do I know anything about other than the fact that they smashed my car up the last time I ignored them and seem to to be tied to some sort of mystic bullcrap. And considering that the last time mystic bullcrap was involved with someone I know, she almost got sacrificed to a Lovecraftian horror in Prada.

But it's not like I've got a choice. Like any good protagonist, I must initially resist the call to action, but the call knows where I live. And it is damned determined. So I'm going. Not sure what time as the flier didn't specify. I'd like to take my sweet time. Make him wait. That'll teach him for breaking my window! Not too late, though. I'm going to be in one of those areas that you really don't want to find yourself alone in after dark. Squishy little suburban craker like me wouldn't survive an hour!

Either way, I'm not looking forward to this.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

In which classic rock radio brings me no end of trouble



There's quite a lot of cultural significance around the number 7. East and West. Wikipedia has a pretty comprehensive list. Seriously, check it out, it's interesting! Off the top of my head, however, it just made me think of Voldemort's seven horcruxes and VII being the number of the best Final Fantasy game.

Well, I forgot the note for a few days, until the local classic rock radio station decided, as it often does, that that day was a nice day to play Stairway to Heaven. I remembered the flier itself had a very Zeppelin-y theme, though the only thing I could really remember about it was a bit about VII/VII.

Seventh album, seventh song? I figured that if I was going to humor a crazy cultist, there are worse ways to do it than by listening to some Z.
The song in particular was "Tea for One" off of the Presence album. 9 minutes, 26 seconds. Very bluesy, one of their slower songs in fact. Very nice guitar rifts, but I chose to focus on the lyrics.

"How come twenty four hours, Baby sometimes seem to slip into days?
Oh twenty-four hours, Baby sometimes seem to slip into days
A minute seems like a lifetime, Oh baby when I feel this way
Sittin, lookin at the clock, time moves so slow
I've been watchin for the hands to move
Until I just can't look no more"

And etc. for the rest of the nine and a half minuets of the song. I tried picking letters out in a certain order. I tried to listen to the song backwards, I tried putting the lyrics in anagram engines. I picked out all the roman numerals in the lyrics and added them up. (64357 for the first three lines if you count Us as Vs). Anyway, after about three hours or so I did find a hidden meaning in the lyrics. Something that I always suspected, and was looking right at me! "Why does twenty four hours seem to slip into days?" And like Buddha when he became enlightened, it dawned on me.
This was
Then I remembered that there were other numbers. I went down to the car, uncrumpled the paper and read again.


A date.
Well, fuck!

Anyway, at that point, I was sick of the whole thing, so tossed the note back into my car and forgot about it.

7/7/2011 came and almost went without incident. Two of my three sisters were spending a week in the area because of the Fourth and were set to go back to where they came from the next morning. They spent their last night in So-Cal attempting to out-gossip each other while my dad was vehemently arguing with his friend about the need to set up machine guns along the Mexican boarder, and my mom had already retired to bed after a bottle and a half of wine. The usual family bullshit. As the sun was setting, at about 9-ish, we heard the crash.

Everyone with enough presence of mind stumbled out into the yard where the cars were parked. Mine had just had the driver's side window smashed in. I scooped out the glass, and started searching for things that might have been stolen.

Under the driver's seat, I found another flier. It had a picture of the Hermit, just as the last one had.
This one read:
In the shadow of where the gladiators battle
Be where the compass rose points to the the story's introduction.
When the characters are introduced, the rising action can begin.
'Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on.

I didn't tell my parents, and I sure as hell didn't tell the police. I had an inkling about what this was about, but I'm not one hundred percent sure.
7/14 is this Thursday. The gladiators battle at a Colosseum. I don't think they expect me to show up in Italy in three days, so I guessed they meant the one in LA.

And sure enough, right in the shadow, right on the same block:
Exposition, rising action, climax, denouement. And they say you never use what you learn in High School in real life! The problem is, the stuff you tend to find at the climax is never pleasant. But, either way, I'm going. Just to check it out. Just out of curiosity. And AJ won't stop me. She's had enough of this eldritch bullshit to last a dozen lifetimes.

It wasn't until I met AJ that I learned that "Curiosity killed the cat" is only half a cliche. "Satisfaction brought it back." she'd say in response. And I'll be satisfied enough if I can find someone to pay for my window!

In which I justify my enduring scepticism with horror stories from my childhood.

I've never been the paranoid type. In fact, I actively despise conspiracy theorists. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to talk logic to someone who's constructed their own reality based on the assumption that they're so important that the most powerful institutions on the planet are spending a sizable chunk of their resources trying to shut them up. People like my dad, for instance, who spent a good chunk of his life convinced that the CIA was chasing him. How's that for a Freudian excuse!

Around the time I turned 14, my dad became convinced that he was being followed. It also coincided with the time he stopped taking care of his Diabetes. I'm not sure if that could cause the kind of delusions he was suffering, but my mom and older sister, who are both nurses, seemed to think so. Sometimes he would drive deliberately down the wrong side of the road just to shake the imaginary MIBs chasing him. When we tried to have an intervention, he accused us of working for "them," packed up his belongings, and stormed out of the house. We heard nothing from for a few days, until the police called to say that they found him, half-dead from dehydration in the back of his van in the middle of the Mojave desert. He returned to normal after that, and traded in his Governmentopobia for the typical White Male Suburban paranoias of people of color committing crimes and stealing jobs. Of course, he never did sell his electronic bug detecting kits...

I have always been a believer in the infallibility of logical reasoning, scientific thinking, and objective investigation. My dad's hardly sane behavior only cemented those beliefs, and I kind of made it my mission in life to find out about conspiracies or claims of the supernatural and debunk them and discredit the frauds who perpetuate these sort of things. Possibly because I feel like I'm getting justice for my stolen adolescence, and partly because some part of me suspects that what happened to my dad may be in some way genetic and I don't want to be spending all my time checking the kitchen cupboards to see if some government agent had planted a listening device in my Cheerios.

As a result, I've gained a fairly comprehensive understanding of conspiracies and claims of the supernatural. The latter supplied by my friend AJ, who's actually a pretty firm believer in the supernatural. I don't hold it against her, people are entitled to believe what they want, so long as it doesn't result in you abandoning your family to die in a van in the middle of the desert. Besides we had much more in common that we bonded over. She quickly became my best friend, and even started dating a guy who I consider to be the brother I never had. And she helped me realize that there's actually a lot of fun in much of the mythology and study of the paranormal. So much fun, that she decided to make a show about it.

We spent a good chunk of a year swapping ideas for episodes and developing the characters (the show itself was kind of X-files meets Buffy, meets Scooby Doo, meets a Noir pastiche) and even after she moved to Utah, then later to DC, we were still serious about getting it made. Then one day, while she was still living in Utah, I had to open my big trap about an urban legend I had heard about on 4chan's /x/ board. The Slender Man. I should have realized from her reaction that it was a bad idea, but somehow, she got sucked into this world of bloggers and roleplayers to the point where she soon knew much more about the history and lore of this creature than I did.

I don't need to say what happened next. You can read about that for yourself. All I can say is that it took a while for things to really sink in. Heck, at first I didn't believe it. AJ's a pretty great story teller, and I just thought that she was getting so into one of her stories that she was forgetting to leave character. I mean, I was on the other side of the country, for all I knew, she was just getting really involved in an elaborate role play. Except, she wasn't playing a character, and the more I talked to her, the more I began to see that she and her little friend were really in danger. And I tried to find out anything I could about Noctis, to see if I could help. I came up with nothing, and after things seemed to resolve themselves, I figured it was for the best.

Since then, I've been trying to re-examine the sort of person I am. Was my dad right? How much of what we causally dismiss as superstition or urban legend is actually a dire warning from those who know better? If Slender Man, then what? Reptilians in charge of the government? 9/11 as an inside job? JFK, Roswell, Time cube?! Where do the lies end and where, if there is any, does the truth begin? I'd rather like to think that my friend was just unlucky and these sort of occurrences only happen to every trillionth person. The strange has come and gone, and won't bother us again. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, recycle bin to recycle bin. 

For the previous weeks before the final incident, I'd been threatening AJ with the prospect of me flying out there so that I could help her. When it seems things had really come to a head and I heard that she was in the hospital, I reluctantly begged my parents for the money for a plane ticket and immediately high-tailed it to DC. Luckily, she was in as high spirits as anyone about to enter chemo could be. Anya was there too, but I don't think she seemed too thrilled to talk to me.

Two days later, I was back in California. I got my luggage, and schlepped to where I left my car what seemed like a lifetime ago. It was covered with a fine layer of soot, but other than that it looked just the way I left it, until I noticed a scrap of paper wedged under the driver's side windshield wiper.

"The compass rose points the way in the park where the story begins. VII/VII/MMXI
'And it's whispered that soon, if we all call a tune, then THE PIPER will lead us to reason.'

On the other side flier was the picture you see to your right, I recognized it from the album cover for Led Zeppelin IV. The Stairway to Heaven lyric was a nice touch too.

Well, like any sane person who almost lost a friend to this sort of cryptic bullshit, I crumpled it up and threw it in my back seat. Nothing odd happened, no family members were involved in major accidents, and I concluded that it was left by one of the many Hare Krishna cults you see hanging around airports handing out fliers. At home, I looked up Charles Manson's "Helter Skelter" theory, about how the The White Album was a secret code for the Manson Family to incite a war between the Races. I spent the next couple of weeks sleeping with a baseball bat half convinced that I was going to be murdered in my sleep by people who thought The Battle of Evermore was more than just a love letter to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Like I said, i just don't go for this sort of conspiracy bullshit. I am sane, I am rational, and I just have very unlucky friends, and as for AJ's encounter with you know what, I really didn't it was a good idea to prod the subject further.

Until "VII/VII" came about...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In which I struggle to make sense of all this.

It's been about six weeks since I almost lost my best friend. It's not an easy thing to come to terms with, especially knowing that what I'm going through is only a fraction of what she's had to endure. And will endure, for that matter. The worst part is that it literally and earnestly is my fault entirely!
See that? Right there, in the URL! Plain as day, black and white, and clear as crystal.

And you know what? Despite the Noctis, despite the FBI, despite that fucking thing itself, she survived, not unmarred, but she did it, middle finger triumphantly raised and all!

It's taken me three hours just to write all this out. If it weren't for recent events, I would be more than content to just leave this sleeping dog to doze on forever. I've had more than six weeks to think about if I really want to do this, and I'm not sure if six weeks is really enough. I've never kept a personal journal, and I have no idea if something this, for lack of a better word, insane should be broadcasted across the internet, but this is eating me alive!

It's getting late, so I'll wait until tomorrow to share what happened to me at the airport after I came home from visiting AJ in the hospital. But I will say this: When AJ first told me about the Noctis, I was curious. I wanted to find them, and wrangle every bit of information they had on it from them. Anything that could keep her and Anya safe. However, I think something else is trying to find me.