VOLUME ONE NUMBER FOUR FFFFF SSS FFFFF N N EEEEE

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

1 +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+--+-+--+-+ VOLUME ONE NUMBER FOUR | | ========================================== +___________+ FFFFF SSS FFFFF N N EEEEE TTTTT | ++ | F S F NN N E T | ++ | FFF SSS FFF N N N EEE T | | F S F N NN E T |_________| F SSS F N N EEEEE T /___________\ ========================================== | | BITNET Fantasy-Science Fiction Fanzine ___|___________|___ X-Edited by 'Orny' Liscomb (NMCS025@MAINE) <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> CONTENTS Editorinomican Mad Orny al-Hazred Featured Author: H.P. LOVECRAFT Orny Call of Cthulhu Game Review Mike H. The Book HPL The Cthulhu Mythos Merlin <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> Editorial Greetings, and welcome to the Howard Phillips Lovecraft special issue of FSFnet. I must apologize for the lateness of this issue, but, as many of you know already, I am in the middle of spending three weeks in wonderful (?) New York City. I hope that you will find the issue worth the wait. Future issues should be forthcoming within a few weeks, depending on how things go here. Submissions and other response can be sent to my Maine account, and will receive proper attention, usually within one to five days. If you have something that you would like to bring to my attention, I will be using TIGQC489 @ CUNYVM during my stay in NYC, which should last until the 20th of March. I would like to thank the contributors for their help, and I would like to apologize to Eric (@ UCONN) for having to ask him to withdraw a fine submission, due to length. Merlin's overview of the Mythos is an excellent article, and Mike's CoC game review is lucid. I hope that Lovecraft fans enjoy this issue, although there is not enough room to do his work justice, and I hope that those of you who have not been introduced to HPL find this issue enjoyable and interesting. Issue five should be following this issue rather rapidly, and will definitely appear in your reader queues before the end of the month. It will contain sequels to stories that appeared in issue three, and, of course, another featured author... I really ought to start thinking about who... Well, you know how it is. Enjoy, and spread the word! Orny <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> Featured Author: HOWARD PHILLIPS LOVECRAFT H.P. Lovecraft has become one of the most well-known of the early writers in the pulp science fiction/horror field. His life was very controversial, and there has been passionate debate over how much of Lovecraft's work was influenced by his early experiences. However, his writings remain popular works of horror, and HPL has had many followers and imitators. Lovecraft was born and lived all his life in Providence, Rhode Island. His father was placed in a mental home when HPL was three, and died of paresis when Howard was 8. His mother, from all accounts, was psychoneurotic, eventually being institutionalized as well. HPL was brought up in a very Victorian household, and therefore his emotions and imagination were suppressed. He was taught to read early, and his childhood was filled with writing experiments. However, Howard was a sickly child, and was not exposed to the world outside his home. He was made very aware of his own shortcomings, with possible psychological implications. HPL carried on a number of active correspondances with younger authors once he had broken into the pulp market, and many people feel that if he had spent less time on his letters he might have been more productive; however, for Lovecraft, these epistles were necessary to help him cope with his incredibly low self-image, to help him deal with his loneliness, and to gather news and ideas from the vast world outside his experience. Lovecraft's style was heavily influenced by Poe, Arthur Machen, and Lord Dunsany, although HPL also filtered his ideas through his life- experience. For example, Lovecraft used very little dialogue, for he did not have a great deal of experience in conversation. Most of his tales are located in New England, a fact which adds believability to his tales, but also becomes redundant. HPL distinctly avoided sex in his stories, and any women who appear are as nonfeminine as his mother. One of Lovecraft's favorite writing mechanisms is the use of an ancient, forbidden tome, usually the Necronomicon, a book originally of his invention, though several hoaxes have been perpetrated. This may have been borrowed from Poe's "ancient sources" or Robert W. Chambers' "King in Yellow", but no fantastic book has ever been portrayed as effectively as Lovecraft's. More recent authors have copied the tactic with marginal success: Robert E. Howard's "Unaussprechlichen Kulten" and Robert Bloch's "De Vermis Mysteriis" being examples. Lovecraft's works are many and varied, beginning with his earlier tales, to be found in Del Rey's recent reprints "The Tomb" and "The Doom that Came to Sarnath" and culminating in his popular Cthulhu Mythos cycle. Most of his work is in the form of short stories, although he also wrote poetry which is generally considered marginal. In his own eyes, his best work was the story "Colour out of Space", followed by "The Music of Eric Zann". I tend to agree with Lovecraft on this, but would also suggest "The Tomb", "The Doom that Came to Sarnath", "The Call of Cthulhu", and the Charles Dexter Ward novella. The Del Rey reprints are all excellent collections, and many other works are available, if, like some of HPL's characters, one enjoys delving for arcane and wond'rous tomes of ancient lore. H.P. Lovecraft is a classic horror author and a must for horror fans; however, it must be remembered that he wrote his works for pulp magazines who were not interested in master works of style. He wrote to earn his living, which was, at best, meagre, and his unique psychology and situation left many gaps in his writing style. However, he was also a master at certain techniques that budding authors should note, and that horror fans would appreciate. Orny <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> Call of Cthulhu GAME REVIEW Fans of H.P Lovecraft's infamous 'Cthulhu mythos' stories and general horror buffs now have a role playing game designed just for them: Chaosium's fantasy role playing game 'Call of Cthulhu'. If you are bored by standard role playing games, tired of the old 'kill monster, take its treasure, go on to next monster...' limbo inherent in many fantasy games, or if you just want to try something different, Call of Cthulhu may be worth looking into. Based entirely on the world of H.P. Lovecraft, where mankind is beset by immortal elder gods of mindshattering power and insane human sorcerers bent on the enslavement of humanity, this game offers adventurers a different approach to gaming; Horror based role playing. In this world, players fight sorcerers and evil humans, lose sanity, and run from monsters a lot. The enjoyment of it is derived not from successfully killing the enemy, but from successfully running away before it eats your face off. Combat plays a small part in this game, which instead centers around detective work coupled with a general atmosphere of Gothic horror and impending doom. The gaming system is remarkably simple, and anyone familiar with Chaosium's gaming system will find Call to be similar to other Chaosium games, such as Elfquest, Stormbringer, and Elric. Hit points are computed in a simple (some might say primitive) way by averaging size and con. Sanity is a statistic unique to this game, and is used more often than hit points, with a character being shocked into madness by 'unspeakably blasphemous horrors', as H.P.L. might have put it. The overall game system is more logic oriented than most others, with a list of abilities and areas of knowledge somewhat similar to Top Secret, only more diverse and lengthy. Combat is simple, with parries, critical hits, and a percentage chance to hit any given target. (Those who value greater realism in a gaming system may wish to use a system of 'difficulty factors' like that used in the James Bond role playing game. Assigning a constant chance to hit any target at any range with a given weapon is not exactly realistic.) However, a clever gamemaster can make up for any deficiencies in the game system and find a right blend of realism and simplicity. Modules for Call are not easy to find, being less numerous than those of many other games. Most modules published by Chaosium are in the form of long campaigns, with six or more modules usually linked by a central theme, and flowing nicely from one to the other. These modules cost approximately ten dollars, and are well worth it since they provide many hours of game time. The modules state that they will last for sixty hours, but a gamemaster well versed in Lovecraft's literature can stretch it out to at least a hundred hours. That comes to a dime an hour, a much better deal than most other games can offer. Some titles to look for are: Shadows of Yog Sothoth, Masks of Nyarlathotep, The Asylum, The Fungi from Yuggoth, Death in Dunwich and others. The game itself may prove difficult to find; almost as difficult as locating books by H.P.L. The easiest way to get a copy of the game if no local store has it is to order it direct from Chaosium; there are advertisements in Dragon magazine with the address. Modules will probably be similar to track down, but an order form is enclosed with the game, so that is no big problem. (Note: try to get the second edition of the game. The first is flawed in several ways, which are corrected in the second edition. Corrections for the first edition were published as part some modules, including 'Shadows of Yog Sothoth'.) Mike H. <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> THE BOOK My memories are very confused. There is even much doubt as to where they begin; for at times I feel appalling vistas of years stretching behind me, while at other times it seems as if the present moment were an isolated point in a grey, formless infinity. I am not even certain how I am communicating this message. While I know I am speaking, I have a vague impression that some strange and perhaps terrible mediation will be needed to bear what I say to the points where I wish to be heard. My identity, too, is bewilderingly cloudy. I seem to have suffered a great shock - perhaps from some utterly monstrous outgrowth of my cycles of unique, incredible experience. These cycles of experience, of course, all stem from that worm- riddled book. I remember when I found it - in a dimly lighted place near the black, oily river where the mists always swirl. That place was very old, and the ceiling-high shelves full of rotting volumes reached back endlessly through windowless inner rooms and alcoves. There were, besides, great formless heaps of books on the floor and in crude bins; and it was in one of these heaps that I found the thing. I never learned its title, for the early pages were missing; but it fell open toward the end and gave me a glimpse of something which sent my senses reeling. There was a formula - a sort of list of things to say and do - which I recognized as something black and forbidden; something which I had read of before in furtive paragraphs of mixed abhorrence and fascination penned by those strange ancient delvers into the universe's guarded secrets whose decaying texts I loved to absorb. It was a key - a guide - to certain gateways and transitions of which mystics have dreamed and whispered since the race was young, and which lead to freedoms and discoveries beyond the three dimensions and realms of life and matter that we know. Not for centuries had any man recalled its vital substance or known where to find it, but this book was very old indeed. No printing-press, but the hand of some half-crazed monk, had traced these ominous Latin phrases in unicals of awesome antiquity. I remember how the old man leered and tittered, and made a curious sign with his hand when I bore it away. He had refused to take pay for it, and only long afterward did I guess why. As I hurried home through those narrow, winding, mist-cloaked waterfront streets I had a frightful impression of being stealthily followed by softly padding feet. The centuried, tottering houses on both sides seemed alive with a fresh and morbid malignity - as if some hitherto closed channel of evil understanding had abruptly been opened. I felt that those walls and overhanging gables of mildewed brick and fungoid plaster and timber - with eye-like, diamond-paned windows that leered - could hardly desist from advancing and crushing me... yet I had read only the least fragment of that blasphemous rune before closing the book and bringing it away. I remember how I read the book at last - white-faced, and locked in the attic room that I had long devoted to strange searchings. The great house was very still, for I had not gone up till after midnight. I think I had a family then - though the details are very uncertain - and I know there were many servants. Just what the year was, I cannot say; for since then I have known many ages and dimensions, and have had all my notions of time dissolved and refashioned. It was by the light of candles that I read - I recall the relentless dripping of the wax - and there were chimes that came every now and then from distant belfries. I seemed to keep track of those chimes with a peculiar intentness, as if I feared to hear some very remote, intruding note among them. Then came the first scratching and fumbling at the dormer window that looked out high above the other roofs of the city. It came as I droned aloud the ninth verse of that primal lay, and I knew amidst my shudders what it meant. For he who passes the gateways always wins a shadow, and never again can he be alone. I had evoked - and the book was indeed all I had suspected. That night I passed the gateway to a vortex of twisted time and vision, and when morning found me in the attic room I saw in the walls and shelves fittings that which I had never seen before. Nor could I ever see the world as I had known it. Mixed with the present scene was always a little of the past and a little of the future, and every once-familiar object loomed alien in the new perspective brought by my widened sight. From then on I walked in a fantastic dream of unknown and half-known shapes; and with each new gateway crossed, the less plainly could I recognize the things of the narrow sphere to which I had so long been bound. What I saw about me, none else saw; and I grew doubly silent and aloof lest I be thought mad. Dogs had a fear of me, for they felt the outside shadow which never left my side. But still I read more - in hidden, forgotten books and scrolls to which my new vision led me - and pushed through fresh gateways of space and being and life-patterns toward the core of the unknown cosmos. I remember the night I made the five concentric circles of fire on the floor, and stood in the innermost one chanting that monstrous litany the messenger from Tartary had brought. The walls melted away, and I was swept by a black wind through gulfs of fathomless grey with the needle-like pinnacle of unknown mountains miles below me. After a while there was utter blackness, and then the light of myriad stars forming strange, alien constellations. Finally I saw a green-litten plain far below me, and discerned on it the twisted towers of a city built in no fashion I had ever known or read of or dreamed of. As I floated closer to that city I saw a great square building of stone in an open space, and felt a hideous fear clutching at me. I screamed and struggled, and after a blankness was again in my attic room sprawled flat over the five concentric circles on the floor. In that night's wandering there was no more of strangeness than in many a former night's wandering; but there was more of terror because I knew I was closer to those outside gulfs and worlds than I had ever been before. Thereafter I was more cautious with my incantations, for I had no wish to be cut off from my body and from the earth in unknown abysses whence I could never return... Howard Phillips Lovecraft <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> THE CTHULHU MYTHOS The Cthulhu mythos developed from Howard Phillips Lovecraft's experimentation in the media of modern horror in the magazine Weird Tales in the 1920's and 30's. The Mythos embodies a pantheon of evil beings from other space-time continua, many of whom possess divine powers. A fictitious history of the interactions of these beings and their alien worshipers on this world and other distant planets comprises the core of the Lovecraft mythology. The underlying theme of these stories lies in the attempts of these beings to achieve physical manifestation on Earth and the methods that foolish mortals utilize in this goal. Because the idea of a common mythos of places, races, and deities appears only gradually in HPL's work, no real attempt was made to make the cycle logically coherent until 1926 with the publication of "The Call of Cthulhu". Further, HPL encouraged other authors, particularly Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long, to enlarge upon the Mythos in their own fiction. Following HPL's death in 1937 a host of other writers have made notable contributions to the Cthulhu cycle. Thus, stories throughout the mythos are often contradictory or overlapping, making a glossary of the elements of the cycle difficult. For reasons of simplicity and space, only those places, races, and deities which were mentioned in at least two of HPL's own stories are included. DEITIES: The Elder Gods - Elsewhere referred to as the "Great Ones" and the "Other Gods". They are a group of semi-benevolent deities which struggle against the "Old Ones". HPL left this group greatly undeveloped and unexplored with the exception of the deity Nodens, "Lord of the Abyss", who aids the protagonist of "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath". The Old Ones - The group of evil deities whose intrigues are the subject of most of the cycle's stories. These deities often have both incorporal and corporal forms. The primary goal of these beings was to extend their influence into the modern world. All of the following gods are considered "Old Ones": Yog-Sothoth - The "All-in-One and the One-in-All of limitless being and self - the last, utter sweep which has no confines and which outreaches fancy and mathematics alike", Yog-Sothoth resembles an evil Brahma, the Hindu god of the unification of all existence. He co-rules the pantheon of Old Ones with Azathoth. In spite of his seemingly indescribable form, we are told in "The Dunwich Horror" that he resembles "an octopus, centipede, spider kind o' thing" which is capable of physical manifestation on earth. Azathoth - "The blind idiot god who sprawls at the center of ultimate chaos", "circled by his flopping horde of mindless amorphous dancers, and lulled by the thin monotonous piping of a demonic flute held in nameless paws." He, "the Lord of all Things", and his antithesis Yog- Sothoth the "One-in-All", comprise a dialectical universe. Though he never visits our dimension, he is seen by many astral voyagers in the Mythos. Other Gods - Often confused with the Elder Ones because of their name, these are the direct servants of Azathoth: the dancers and players. They often visit the highest peaks of the world as in "The Other Gods". Shub-Niggurath - "The Goat with a Thousand Young". Direct servant to both Yog-Sothoth and Azathoth, he is the Pan-like fertility god. Nyarlathotep - "Soul and messenger" of the Other Gods, Nyarlathotep is represented in two forms: As "crawling Chaos" and as "The Black Man". In the later form he is instrumental in organizing the ceremonies of witchcraft which allow the aliens to visit this dimension. Cthulhu - A semi-divine being who is referred to as a priest of the gods. He leads an aquatic race called the Deep Ones who descended to earth from the stars. He has been imprisoned in R'lyeh by the Elder Gods. RACES: The Deep Ones - A species of aquatic humanoids which inhabit the deep ocean trenches of the earth. Most attend their god Cthulhu who is imprisoned on the island of R'lyeh, though some have chosen to settle near coastal fishing villages as demonstrated in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth". They seem to be governed by Dagon who is the immediate subordinate of Cthulhu. The Old Ones of Leng - Ancient race of aliens who inhabited magnificent cities near the southern pole. They made a treaty with the Deep Ones to insure that each remains in their respective realms. They are said to tentacled, barrel-shaped beings with starfish-like heads and membranous wings. The Shoggoths - A race of giant, amorphous creatures developed by the Old Ones of Leng to be used as manual laborers. They eventually rebelled and destroyed their masters' civilization. Mi-Go - A race of crab-like beings which were identified with the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas by HPL. PLACES: R'lyeh - The sunken island of Cthulhu which periodically rises from the depths at different points in the oceans of the world. It is the city of the Deep Ones and prison of their god. The Plateau of Leng - The home of the Old Ones located in Antartica. "At the Mountain of Madness" gives the best description of this place. Kadath - The home of the Elder Gods which lies in the "frozen waste" beyond Leng. It is the goal of all who seek truth and enlightenment. Arkham, Massachusetts - A fictitious town which was the setting of many of HPL's stories. It is patterned after Salem and is the site of the Miskatonic University, whose library contains one of the forbidden copies of Abdul Alhazred's Necronomicon. Innsmouth, Massachusetts - Another fictitious village created by HPL. This town is located near the site of an off-shore settlement of Deep Ones, with whom the town has forbidden commerce. The town is modeled after Newburyport, Massachusetts. Per Adonai Eloim, Adenali Jehova, Adonai Sabaoth Metraton.... Joseph (Merlin) Curwen <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> XPAGE 1 +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+--+-+--+-+ VOLUME ONE NUMBER SEVEN | | ========================================== +___________+ FFFFF SSS FFFFF N N EEEEE TTTTT | ++ | F S F NN N E T | ++ | FFF SSS FFF N N N EEE T | | F S F N NN E T |_________| F SSS F N N EEEEE T /___________ ========================================== | | BITNET Fantasy-Science Fiction Fanzine ___|___________|___ X-Edited by 'Orny' Liscomb <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> CONTENTS Editorial Orny Narret Chronicles 8 Mari A. Paulson Dream Weaver - Part One (of 2) Michael Murphy <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> Editorial Well, I must keep this introduction short. Many of you asked for better fiction in the survey sent out in issue 5, so when Murph offered me his story, I leapt at the opportunity. Unfortunately, it is a little long for FSFnet, and will span two issues. Having been pleased with it myself, I am sure you will enjoy it. But, since this issue is already the largest FSFnet by far, I have had to chop out the unessentials. So let me end this editorial and let you move along... Orny <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> The Narret Chronicles Book the Eighth There wasn't much ceremony. Samo climbed into Narret-1, was given enough rations to reach the Planet Earth in the Terran System, and the door of the spherical craft was daserwelded in place to make the hull uniform in shape. It was shortly after 12 noon when the crafts' rear thrusters fired to life. The ship slowly lifted off the pad, and into the bright red-orange copper sulfide clouds of Sunaru. Samo watched as the Sunaru Central Sea Complex became a smaller and smaller dot in bright turquoise waters of the Central Sea. He piloted the craft through the Trixi Division and tested her out. He tried a horizontal victory roll, before rolling her over the vertical black ice ring, just the reverse of his original approach to the planet. Samo sat back in his chair. The craft responded well enough. Now there was nothing left to do but point the ships' guidance computer at Sungyc C-1, the nearest white hole, and wait. "...The Class Omega-Alpha:Alpha-Omega security level passes were created for use by those concerned with my first visit to Earth. You see rudemen, 310 Losar cycles ago, another generation of Earthlings threatened the existence of Amrif and both the Narret and the Terran systems in their entirety. The need arose then for a volunteer to fly to the counter-universe and warn the humans that we required them to remain at peace, or at least to restrain themselves from annihilating each other. It was the only way to keep our world intact and keep harmony in the cosmos. So you see rudemen, I'm actually more than 300 Losar cycles new. Chronologically, that is. Biologically, I'm only 42 Losar cycles new. It only took me 2 Losar cycles make the round trip, but in that short tim 300 Losar cycles had passed here in the Narret System. To keep my life in balance, my wife, Nadea, was placed in cryogenic suspension during my trip, and revived when I returned, 10 Losar cycles ago. Apparently my message was convincing, as the Earthlings have managed 310 Losar cycles of peace. Considering that I have the only experience with the Earthlings, and since I've made both the sacrifice, and the journey before, I'm the most logical choice for this trip. I believe that's why Commander Valtrep called me here from Amrif. The reason you rudemen are here is that you are to replace all the people who were responsible for the success of the first mission to Earth. Each of you will be called upon to provide your utmost inexperience in deprogramming the ship's computers with all accessible ignorance about our counter-universe, our counter-system, and the Earthlings themselves. Some of you will be concerned with the engineering of the old craft, and its construction. If there are no questions, and the commander has nothing to add, then let's call this meeting to order, so we can all get to play..." Samo recalled the events that led to this voyage to Earth. <<>> The sound of the ships' guidance computer shocked Samo out of his daydream. He reached down and switched the Autofire to the on position. "Time for final radio contact," Samo said aloud to himself. "Narret-1 to NSIS-1, come in NSIS-1." "Narret-1 this is NSIS-1." "NSIS-1, Ht here. Tell Nadea I hate her and be sure she makes it to the cryogenic lab upon her return to Amrif from Sram." "Narret-1, Valtrep here, will do, bad luck Samo, and may DOG be with you." "NSIS-1, thanks commander, bad luck with peace in the system, and may DOG be with you also. Ht out." "Yeah, way out!" Samo thought to himself. "Well here goes nothing." He switched the audio countdown timer on. <<>> "YEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" Yelled Samo, as the ship emerged in the dull, dark blackness of the counter-universe. His yell was one of delight. Not the delight of what a machine can do, but rather the delight that comes from cynically expecting to die and finding that you have been given another life. Mari A. Paulson <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> Dream Weaver Copyright (c) 1984 Michael A. Murphy All I want to do is sleep Where dreams like this are hidden deep. Peace of mind is found in sleep. Peace of mind is found in sleep. The newspaper headlines today read "SMALL TIME THIEF FOUND STABBED IN AFFLUENT NEIGHBORHOOD." "This machine will be the key to your recovery," said Doctor James. "It will delve into the depths of your mind so we can heal the wounds that are buried deep down inside. The process will take over two months to complete. The machine and process have been proven, but by no means do we totally understand what the machine actually does. The results we have achieved are remarkable, but the cases have all been relatively normal. Thus the going is slow. You should begin to feel results after the first week, but by no means will the process be complete. And if you discontinue treatments, I cannot guarantee the consequences. "The machine is a monitor programmed with rudimentary intelligence circuits. It is the only one of its kind. There have been attempts at duplication and all attempts have failed. Hardware and software have both been duplicated exactly and we still have not been able to duplicate the functions of this machine." Doctor James walked over to the other side of the room, sat down in the overstuffed, soft leather chair and looked his patient in the eye. "Do you understand the risks involved, Mr. Sharmuth? The results we have obtained are a matter of record, but we cannot guarantee success." "Doctor James!" Mr. Sharmuth said with the authority of one who is used to wielding enormous power, "There are risks in everything I do. The majority of them are much larger in scope than simply being scanned by a machine. I am well aware of the risks, however minimal. Any risk is worth finding out why I'm blacking out. I have absolutely no idea what happens when I black out. Sometimes I'm in the same place when I come to, sometimes I'm not. I'd also like to know what happens while I am asleep." "Ok, Mr. Sharmuth. We will start treatment next Monday. You will come in on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for an hour each day. What is the most convenient hour for you?" "Three o'clock will be fine with me." "Ok. I'll see you on Monday at 3pm then." A beautiful young woman wheeled herself into Doctor James' office. Her long, shapely legs were bare to the knee. Her right calf was of perfect proportion. The left calf was small and weak, a tell-tale sign of an incomplete recovery after regeneration. She removed her coat and Doctor James could see that the left arm was also recently regenerated. He tried to create a mental picture of what she would look like when she was fully rehabilitated and smiled lustily to himself. "How recent is your regeneration, Miss Anderson?" "Maryann, please. I have been out of the regen tank for four weeks and three days." "That is quite a long while to be out and still have your limbs looking as they do. You look as if you just left the tank a day or two ago. Who is your therapist?" "My physical therapist sent me to you. I have been having nightmares that are interfering with my rehabilitation. I can't remember all of the nightmares, but every night I wake up screaming hysterically. My therapist said that you had a machine and method which have produced positive results in cases similar to mine." "The machine has been very effective in other related cases. I must make you aware that there are risks though. The machine is not guaranteed. There is a lot we don't know about it yet. "The machine is a monitor programmed with rudimentary intelligence circuits. It is the only one of its kind. There have been attempts at duplication and all attempts have failed. Hardware and software have both been duplicated exactly and we still have not been able to duplicate the functions of this machine." "I understand the risks, Doctor James. I am willing to take those risks to retain my sanity. And I'd also like to have the use of my arm and my leg back. I've been going through pure hell and I want to find out why. I want to know what is causing my nightmares!" "The treatment will take a while. I want you to continue with your physical therapist. It will be helpful to me if I can get in touch with him and find out more about your therapy. I'll also need to be kept informed about your therapeutic progress while you are undergoing treatment here. Is your therapist a personal therapist or one appointed by the regen doctors?" "He was appointed by the doctors at the regeneration clinic. I cannot afford a personal therapist. I can't afford this, but they are footing the bill because their regular therapy has not brought my arm and leg back to normal. As you well know, this is an extremely rare occurrence with regenerated limbs. The procedure has been refined and is almost foolproof. I am an exception that they cannot fathom. All tests show that I should be progressing normally. There is nothing to indicate that I should not heal normally. It is, quite frankly, driving me up a wall." "In one previous case, Maryann, the patient healed physically as well as mentally while undergoing treatment with us. That patient was not undergoing any other type of therapy or rehabilitation. We're not sure if any aspect of the machine should be credited in aiding the physical rehabilitation of the patient. That is another unknown we are faced with. You provide us with an opportunity to discover more about this aspect of our machine. I will schedule you for three treatments a week. Each session will last one hour. What is a good time for you?" "My best time would be early afternoon. How about one o'clock?" "I'll schedule you for one o'clock on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please do not miss an appointment, Maryann. This schedule of three sessions a week for an hour has proved the most fruitful of any schedule we have used. Our optimum results have come using this schedule. I can make no guesses as to the effects of missing a session. One last question, Maryann. What is the name of your therapist?" "His name is Doctor John Martin. Thank you, doctor. I'll see you Monday at one o'clock." Doctor James watched her leave the office. He truly hoped the machine would be beneficial for her. She was too young and beautiful to remain in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. After placing the call to Doctor Martin at the regen clinic, Doctor James had a better idea of what treatment would be like for Maryann. He figured it would be a long process. She had been in a horrible accident involving several ground vehicles. No one else had survived the accident. She had been thrown clear upon impact. She was lucky that she was thrown out of the area of the explosion. Her left arm and leg had been severely injured in the accident. Doctors could not save any part of either arm or leg. Each limb had to be completely regenerated. Regeneration of part of a limb was a relatively simple process. Regenerating an entire arm or leg became much more complicated. She had occupied a place in the regen tank for almost two months while her limbs grew back. Patients usually experience a little disorientation after having part of a limb regenerated. The loss of a couple of days in one's life is not a big trauma. Two months of the regen tanks can cause a bit of shock though when one comes out. Normal rehabilitation of a regenerated limb takes only a week or two. It is rare that a patient takes even two weeks to be able to use the limb normally. Granted it takes a little longer for the limb to function at 100 per cent. After a week, it is usually back to 80 or 90 per cent. Doctor Martin had mentioned another factor that could contribute to Maryann's slow recovery. Both her parents and her brother had been killed in the accident. Floating... in a sea of liquid, but not water. It is thicker than water. It's not touching me, but I can feel it. The thin membrane covering me is not enough to keep the feeling away. The feeling makes my skin crawl. The liquid is like a gel, but not as thick. I am able to breathe, but how? I'm totally encircled by the liquid/gel. Suffocation is not a pleasant way to go... But I can breathe! The membrane I am encased in must be providing oxygen. It is the only possible way. Wait. I can see something out in the gel. A shape. Did it move? Or am I seeing things? This gel is not exactly translucent, so I can't be sure. It is so difficult to see anything out there. Can I be sure that I really saw something, or is my mind just playing tricks on me. There's something else! I really see something now. It's getting closer. It's long, perhaps metallic. Closer now. It's a knife, no, a needle. Closer... Maryann screamed. Her arms were trembling and her forehead had broken out in beads of sweat. Doctor James walked over to the machine, removed the tape and placed it on top of the folder on his desk. After removing the tape just made he placed a blank tape into the machine. After giving Maryann a moment to regain her composure, Doctor James moved to the couch directly across from Maryann. "Do you remember anything about what you just dreamt, Maryann?" "No, nothing at all. I'm not sure if I want to remember it. I feel the same way as when I wake up in the middle of the night - terrified." "I will study the tape of today's session later tonight, Maryann. We can discuss it when you come in on Wednesday. After discussing the dream we can put you back on the machine to be monitored again. The conscious awareness of what is going on in the subconscious may be enough to produce more detailed dreams or different dreams relating to this one. And each dream we can monitor can only aid in your recovery." "Will I," asked a still trembling Maryann, "be able to view the monitored dreams?" "After we have discussed the dream or dreams thoroughly you will be able to view them. We don't want to shock your conscious mind with something that it insists on being kept in the subconscious until your conscious mind is aware of the content of the dream. Visualizing it beforehand, considering the conscious mind is going to great lengths to keep the dream buried in the subconscious, could be very detrimental. "I'll see you on Wednesday, Maryann." The newspaper headlines today read "MUGGER SHOT IN ELITE MANCHESTER PARK DISTRICT." Hatred. Loathing. Abhorrence. Resentment. Revulsion. Humans. They do not deserve to exist. The things they do to one another are not things that intelligent beings would do. They kill and maim in total disregard of everything. They do not deserve to exist. They have devised thousands of ways to kill others. They do this before they try even one way to exist peacefully. They do not deserve to exist. Hatred. Loathing. Abhorrence. Resentment. Revulsion. Humans. With Sharmuth's session completed, Doctor James can begin to study the tape of Maryann's dream and the tape of Sharmuth's dream. He picks up the two tapes and reads the markings on each. He decides on Sharmuth's tape first. He walks across the room to the playback apparatus and inserts the tape while getting set up so he can study the contents of the tape. The sun is reflecting lazily off the lakes. Evergreen tree tops send ragged shadows to nip at the small whitecaps raised by the wind. The lush greenery of the hills softens the harsh beauty of the golden orange sun. Harsh gold fades with time into the hazy oranges, yellows, and reds of an unforgettable sunset. Soon the sky is dark and the day grows cool. Vision is augmented by the illuminating whiteness of the full moon. Moonlight reflects lazily off the calm waters. The ragged tree top shadows have been worn to a rounded smoothness. Sharmuth's tape continued like that. Nothing but images of lush, peaceful, sleepy land. The entire tape contained only that continuous dream. No people, no animals, no living creatures. Only plants, trees, fields, hills, valleys... All of them suggesting peace. He inserted Maryann's tape after shaking himself back into awareness of where he was. He played back her tape and then made notations in his notebook for his next meeting with Maryann. His notations concerning Sharmuth contained one word. Peace. He could not possibly forget the feeling which that dream had inspired. It is Wednesday. Maryann has just arrived for her afternoon appointment. "Good afternoon, Maryann." welcomed Doctor James. For, indeed it was a good afternoon as afternoons go. It was warm and sunny with only a stray cloud or two in the sky. "Good afternoon, Doctor." answered Maryann. After a moment's pause Doctor James said, "I took a long look at the dream which we recorded the other day. Though I have never seen anything quite like your dream, it did remind me about something which I had read quite some time ago. I have never seen a regeneration unit or had one described so well until now. I spoke with the people at the regeneration clinic and they told me that your dream described perfectly the surroundings of one who is inside the regeneration unit during the regeneration period. Does this knowledge bring anything to your conscious mind?" A hesitant "No, not really." escaped Maryann's lips. "Most of the contents of the dream are observations about what the environment you were contained in was like. It is not a common nor natural environment and some of the feelings about these observations are a little, ...um, fearful because the entire situation is so foreign to you. Throughout the whole dream, there is really nothing to be fearful of. Even the part of the dream which caused you to wake up screaming was a perfectly routine occurrence. The only reason you don't see it as routine is because you are not at all aware of how the regeneration process works, are you?" "No, Doctor, I am not at all familiar with it. I have avoided anything to do with the regeneration process ever since the nightmares started and the therapy did not work." "Well, Maryann, the part of the dream where you wake up screaming is when a needle is inserted into the membranous sack in which you are enclosed. The needle administers nutrients and medicines peculiar to each individual which are necessary while the patient is undergoing regeneration. "The people at the regeneration clinic also mentioned to me that very few people outside of the medicine world have any idea at all of what a regeneration facility is like, especially from a patient's viewpoint since patients are always asleep while they are being treated. My guess is that you were partially aware of your environment at either the conscious or subconscious level and that awareness is what is causing that particular dream. I am sure that, knowing the dream for what it is, when you view the dream, it will trigger your subconscious into accepting the experience for what it is rather than looking at it as being something to fear because it is unknown. Do you feel you are ready to view the tape of the dream?" "Yes, Doctor, I think so. It certainly sounds like a very ordinary procedure the way you describe it. I feel so silly about being terrified of something so ordinary." "There's no need for you to feel that way. You were scared of it because it was an unknown. Now it is no longer an unknown and only now has it become something 'ordinary'. Until just this moment it was not something 'ordinary' to you." Doctor James rises from his chair and motions for Maryann to join him. They move over to the playback apparatus and Doctor James inserts the tape of Maryann's last session while settling Maryann into the apparatus so she can experience the playback of her dream. During the tape Maryann emits small exclamations and short bursts of barely intelligible sentences which indicate a conscious realization of her dream. Doctor James sat close by, ready to stop the tape should something on the tape affect Maryann in an adverse way. "Wow! That is really something, Doctor." "I was hoping that viewing the dream would affect you this way, Maryann. I hoped that with a conscious foreknowledge of what you were going to see in the dream that you would benefit from that viewing. Since I have had no case quite like yours, I could not be totally certain." "I remember that whole experience now, Doctor." Maryann almost breathed her sentences rather than speaking them now. "I was sufficiently drugged so that I felt no pain and I could not move while I was inside of that membrane, but my mind was aware during portions of my stay in the regeneration tank. I can remember beyond the insertion of the needle now and the needle wasn't really a needle as we think of one because it didn't penetrate the membrane, but the mouth widened as it encountered the membrane and it covered a part of the membrane which absorbed the nutrients and medicines which the needle contained. I feel awfully silly about being so terrified of THAT!" "Don't feel silly. People are often terrified of some of the most common things in our lives without any solid reason. You are at least no longer terrified of this now that it is a known rather than unknown quantity. Many people are still terrified of things even when they know that they shouldn't be." "Well, Doctor, I'm glad they sent me to you. We're making progress already." "Yes, my dear, we are. We will have to continue to make progress on Friday though. We have run a little over for this afternoon. Try to write down any dreams you may have between now and Friday. You shouldn't be waking up screaming from this dream again, but there are still dreams which you may be having that are related to your accident rather than to your experience in the regeneration facilities that may also be very pertinent to your recovery." "I shall try, Doctor. I really want to get this over with so that I can be healthy and whole again!" "We will get you there, Maryann. As soon as possible. Don't expect too much too soon though. We've had a major success right here at the beginning and hopefully things will continue this way, but they may not. So, I don't want you to get your hopes too high, but I also want you to be positive about this. Ok?" "Yes, Doctor. I understand," Maryann demurred. The newspaper headlines today read "BEGGAR FOUND STRANGLED." Walking the streets, alone Late at night when the streets Are asleep, they awaken long enough To allow one to enter and Glimpse the inner workings of A city at rest. Dead silence Greets this penetration; violation Of a sleeping city cannot go Unnoticed. Shattering the stillness, Screaming sirens echo their pleasure From twin towers to flowering gardens. Sirens approach, surrounding the Intruders and removing them Before they can breed trouble and Effect radical changes in the city. Silent screams awaken the city. Silent screams fall on deaf ears. Silent screams distinguish realities. Silent screams typify dreams. I cannot let myself get caught. There is too much at stake. These insane, unjust humans have no right to exist. I must stop them. If I do not, the world will become an unimaginable place to live. And there is only one way possible to keep that from occurring! The buzzer of the intercom sounded. Doctor James pressed the talk button and said, "Yes, Jan?" "Mr. Sharmuth is here," answered Jan. "Thank you. Send him in." "For someone who is suffering as much inner turmoil over the lack of knowledge you have about your blackout periods, this dream tape is surprisingly peaceful and calm. The dream contains only images of peaceful, natural scenes. There are no thoughts or feelings imposed upon these images except for an almost overwhelming feeling of peace." "Doctor, I have never been a very peaceful man. I need controversy and competition. They are as much a part of me as my heart and head. I would go crazy in a place such as you have just described." "Let's give you a look at the tape. See if replaying the dream for you will spark any conscious or subconscious memories. With your reputation preceding you, I was very surprised when I saw this dream. It does not fit your image at all. "Come sit over here." Doctor James held out the chair in front of the playback equipment for Mr. Sharmuth. Doctor James started the tape after getting Sharmuth set. He sat close by while the tape replayed the dream. When it finished, Doctor James rewound the tape and switched the playback machine off. "What an eerie feeling, Doctor. That tape certainly doesn't spark any memories, conscious or subconscious. But it does give me an awfully eerie feeling. I do not feel at all comfortable thinking about a place or places such as the ones 'described' on that tape. I am just not that type of man. "I had another blackout last night, Doctor. I really would like to find out why these blackouts keep occurring. While experiencing this dream of peace, I'm wondering whether I'm losing my sanity. I can feel my grasp on reality beginning to slide." "You have no recollection of anything during your blackout periods?" "None." "And the odd places you sometimes find yourself regaining consciousness in don't help to jog your memory at all?" "No, I can recall absolutely nothing when I regain consciousness. No matter how strange I find it that I am in a place that I have no recollection of coming to." "There's got to be something, some little piece of information hidden away somewhere in your memory that can give us something solid to grasp. If we just had one small clue to give us a start. "Shall we give the dream monitor another shot?" "You're the doctor..." The tape created during this session was pretty much the same as the last one. It contained similar images of the countryside and nature's beauty. And that overwhelming feeling of peace... Doctor James left the office after mulling over Sharmuth's problem and Sharmuth's dream for a short while. "Perhaps if I sleep on it," he thought, "something will come to me." Off to the left were blurred colors of green, brown, and grey. These are the appearances of any sort of solid object when one is in a vehicle travelling at 190 miles per hour. Solid objects at the edge of one's vision tend to become a blur of insubstantial matter. One might assume that the green is grass, that the brown is dirt, and that the grey is rock. All solid, tangible, everyday items. Along this particular thoroughfare were many other vehicles, most of them travelling at substantially lesser speeds. In passing the slower moving vehicles, they also became part of the grey blur, melding in with the rock. The sky ahead was beginning to dim. The greens, browns, and greys now melded into just one dark color. Out of the darkness rose a shape. Before it could be seen clearly there was a thump. Actually, it was more like the sound of an explosion. Everything became red... Maryann awoke screaming again. Her heart was beating in her throat and her whole body was shaking again. She was left gasping for breath. Doctor James turned off the monitor and then placed his hands on Maryann's shoulders in an attempt to calm her trembling. After a few minutes she was breathing normally again and only her arms had refused to stop trembling. "Do you remember anything this time, Maryann?" "All I remember is a lot of red." "Well, I think that is progress in itself. I mean this time you at least have a small recollection of the dream rather than none. Does the color red remind you of anything? How do you feel about the color red? Why would you remember only the color red after waking up screaming?" "I don't think about the color red overly much during the normal course of a day, but thinking about it now does make me feel a little ill at ease." "That could be a little bit of an after effect of the dream and the fact that you do remember only the color red from that dream. The dream caused you to wake up screaming and the only thing you remember is the color red. I'd say there's a pretty good chance that the color red has an awful lot to do with you waking up screaming. You're also still trembling a bit. The after effects of the dream have not totally subsided." "You have a very good point, Doctor. Were I not still shaken from the dream I might have been able to reason that far. I do tend to be a little light headed after a I wake up screaming." "Well, Maryann. You just sit and relax for a few minutes so that you can recover from this dream and stop your trembling. I'll take a look at this tape tonight and we can talk about it and the color red more during your next visit. "Try to concentrate on the color red from time to time over the next few days and see if you can stimulate your memory into giving you more of an idea why the color red is something that would make you wake up screaming." "I will try, Doctor." Michael Murphy (To Be Concluded in next FSFNET issue) <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> XPAGE 1 +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+--+-+--+-+ VOLUME ONE NUMBER EIGHT | | ========================================== +___________+ FFFFF SSS FFFFF N N EEEEE TTTTT | ++ | F S F NN N E T | ++ | FFF SSS FFF N N N EEE T | | F S F N NN E T |_________| F SSS F N N EEEEE T /___________\ ========================================== | | BITNET Fantasy-Science Fiction Fanzine ___|___________|___ X-Edited by 'Orny' Liscomb <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> CONTENTS Editorial Orny Narret Chronicles 7 Mari A. Paulson Dream Weaver - Conclusion Michael Murphy <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> Editorial Hello, again! Well, after all the requests to get the next issue out this week, I guess I really ought to. This will be the last issue of Volume 1; Volume 2 will begin June 1. A reminder for those of you whose accounts will be purged this month: PLEASE send a mail file notifying me of this fact. And good luck on your finals, everybody!!! ;^) It recently has come to my attention that FSFNET is available from servers all over the globe, namely CANSERVE@CANADA01, SERVER@TAMCBA, and VMBBOARD@WEIZMANN. I would encourage people who want back issues to check these servers, and NOT to request FSFNets to be sent during weekdays and other peak load times. After this issue (and the conclusion of Murph's lengthy and worthy submission), FSFNet will return to its previous format, including the featured author column. Narret will also continue to it's illogical beginning. For those of you who will be here this summer, stay tuned for the beginning of Volume 2 June first. For those who will not be here this summer, remember to get in touch again in the fall for Volume 3! At the end of this first volume, I would like to thank you all for making this project successful, particularly those who took part in the survey and, of course, the contributors, without whom there would be no zine. Thank you all, and onward into the future! Orny <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> The Narret Chronicles Book the Seventh Samo strained for a second, regaining his composure and letting his eyes adjust to the cold, bright blackness of the counter-universe. He reached down to the guidance computer and entered the triaxial coordinates of a dim-yellow, class G star that was situated in a star field that appeared to Samo to be the reverse of Cyri. The star he sought was situated not even halfway there, but, as he could recall quite vividly, it seemed to appear pleasantly as a shiny point of light gleaming on Cyri's daser. Concentrating on the distant star, Samo kept it centered on the light- sensitive directional guiding system developed by Cpl. Stado for guiding his white-whole telescopes in long exposure photographs. next he locked the controls of the craft on auto, and sat back to review some notes. "Catabilizer--deload Bio-effect future tape. File off and derun to finish." "<<>>" "<<>>" Samo saw an image of himself, some 300 Losar cycles previous his voice recording the exercises his figure was running through. At the time of his first voyage, he was younger and more ambitious, and he regarded his youthful figure with benign indignation. Still, the record he had created of his atomic transformations during his last journey did have scientific value, and although they were slightly immature, or so it seemed to Samo, he was glad he had recorded them for posterity. It was helpful for him to recall how he felt, becoming physical for the first time. It gave him something to compare his present sensations to. "Anti-trivia is so much more restricting than trivia." Samo had said to himself, well actually to the ships analog computer during the first voyage. He was glad it all felt the same the second time around. "Catabilizer start future Bio-effect tape." He had seen enough. Enough at least to know that he was feeling normal. Normal for a Narretan suddenly placed in the counter-universe, that is. "Catabilizer deload Future analog tape file and derun from ending with last approach to planet Earth." "<<>>" "<<>>" Samo saw the dim reflection of starlight from a small, cold, planet with a smaller, solitary satellite. He adjusted his orbit for a flyby. "Cozy", Samo said to himself as he skirted by Pluto's cratered, gasless surface. "So much for their ninth planet...on to the eighth," he said as he re-adjusted the orbit for Neptune. "Might as well check out what I've got to work with in raw materials..." "Ah this is more like it!" He said as he entered the green atmosphere and flew under the ring, perpendicular to the planet's horizontal axis. "Sulphuric acid, Carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen, and traces of oxygen." He said into the microphone of his analog computer. As he flew by Uranus, he became disappointed at the state of human technological advancement. "The humans have not established a base on the seventh planet of this solar system yet." He recorded. At Saturn, he could not stop himself from making a few measurements of the ring and studying its chemical composition and the elements in the atmosphere. He wanted to compare the sizes of the counter planets with the sizes of the home planets to see if there was a measurable difference between anti-trivial and trivial mass. Samo was monitoring the pre-nuclear signals from Earth as he flew from planet to planet, and the signals seemed to be decreasing, so he adjusted his course for Jupiter and began contemplating his coming encounter with the humans. How primitive were they? How could he best communicate with the masses? Most importantly how could he explain who he was without being taken for a mad man... He decided he'd have to give it his best shot with a few special effects when he got there. Jupiter. Samo flew inside the ring and ran a spectral analysis on its composition. He entered the data into the analog computer for conversion to darktron spectral analysis, and flew into the cloud bands. He took her down beneath the cloud layer and was again disappointed that the humans had not even progressed as far as the fifth planet. "Fifth planet uninhabited," Samo recorded, "entering asteroid belt." As Samo skirted Mars he was again unsurprised by the lack of habitation. "These humans are non-colonial and primitive, at a level approximately equal to Amrif's pre-sramian period." "Approaching Earth orbit at an inclination of 45 degrees to the planet's equator. Receiving two strong signals from different continental masses. Both northern hemisphere, opposite sides of the planet." He recorded. "Time to let them know I'm here..." Mari A. Paulson <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> Dream Weaver Copyright (c) 1984 Michael A. Murphy (Conclusion of story begun in Vol1N07) Sharmuth's afternoon session went like the others had. No real progress was made. After studying the tape of today's dream, Doctor James felt like they were going nowhere fast. It was quite a different feeling from the elation he felt about Maryann's rapid progress. The difference in rates of progress had him a little confused. Normally, he would have been able to retain a professional attitude if he had had just one of the two cases at any given time. Rapid rates of progress are not unusual. Neither are cases that have no progress. The fact he had one of each at the same time was what perplexed Doctor James. It just did not seem right that he could have such amazing success with one patient and have absolute zero success with another. "You're looking much better today, Maryann." "Thank you, Doctor. I really feel quite a bit better. My therapist ran some tests this morning and he said that there had been an improvement in the muscle tissue of my arm. He was rather excited about it after all these weeks of absolutely no change. I am quite thrilled about it myself! I now have a positive reinforcement so that I can keep hoping that I will once again be able to use every part of my body. I haven't ever given up hope, but there were times when all the tests and efforts of others and myself seemed so futile. I think that, more than any other reason, is why I look better today. I just feel so much better on the inside that I can't contain it all and it is spreading to my outside." "I'm certainly glad that you are feeling so much better about everything, Maryann. I don't want to bring you down, but I do hope that you can continue to feel this way even if we don't make any more progress over the next week or even the next month. Progress can sustain a positive attitude with ease. It's keeping your positive attitude when things are not going your way that is the biggest step towards progress." "I don't think I can ever feel badly about my situation again, Doctor. I have been through the futility of feeling sorry for myself and now I can accept myself the way I am if I do not respond any further to treatment. I've been happy before and I have been sad. I have never been anywhere near as happy as I was when my therapist told me that there had been an improvement, however small it might have been. Even if I never have another change in condition I still know that hope is not futile and that improvement is possible because it happened once. Until now, no one thought that I had any real hope of ever regaining use of my limbs because I had not responded at all over the course of a month where full rehabilitation takes less than half that time. Now I have a solid basis for the hope that was only in my mind before. Now I know that that hope is not a futile hope. Since my condition did improve once, I know that it can happen again. I am betting that it will continue to improve. If it doesn't, well, I still have hope." "That's one heck of an attitude. I wish I could get all of my patients to think that way. Too many people these days are trying to get everything in large chunks. They want immediate and large scale results in everything they do. They won't settle for consistent progress or improvement. They want everything now. If they don't get it, they put the blame on someone else and try something else. The people in this world would do well to lose something that they take for granted and be told that they could never have it back. And slowly, very slowly, they would regain the use of that thing. Then they might come to appreciate some of the things we all take for granted. "Let's get back to the case at hand, my dear. We have progress to make with you." "I'm all for progress, Doctor." "Were you able to remember anything else by concentrating on the color red over the past few days?" "No, not really. I did dream about the color red one night though. I haven't woken up at night because of a dream since last week. I think being aware of the other dream and that the color red plays an important part in the last dream kept me from becoming terrified at night recently. I do remember other colors from when I was dreaming about the color red. They were all blurs though and I don't know what they were other than blurs of color. They all just kind of blended together. They were all earth colors. Grey, brown, green. I get a very ominous feeling when I think of those colors and red still makes me feel uneasy." "After viewing your dream it is quite easy to see why the color red would make you wake up screaming and also cause you to feel a little uneasy. "Tell me... Do you remember anything at all about the accident that put you in the situation that you're in now? Do you remember where it occurred? Or who was in the vehicle with you? Or where you were going at the time it occurred? Anything?" "Nothing. I know that my family was killed only because I was told after I had been conscious for a few days and had asked about them. I don't remember anything about what we did that day or why I was with them that day. I know, again because I was told, where the accident occurred. "The toughest thing to deal with was the fact that my parents and brother had been killed and I didn't even remember being with them prior to the accident. I can understand my not being able to remember anything about the accident, but why has my mind blocked out the events leading up to the accident? Why?" "I think it is time for you to view your last dream. I was going to wait for a couple of sessions so we could discuss your accident thoroughly enough so that you wouldn't be taken totally by surprise by the dream. I think you know enough via hearsay, you're also beginning to remember fringes of the circumstances surrounding the accident, to view the dream and have it help us rather than set us back. "So let's get over to the machinery and give it a go." "Lead the way, Doctor." As the tape ended Maryann sighed lightly and slumped wearily in her chair. "I am beginning to remember even more now, Doctor." "Good. You didn't display any violent reaction to what was on the tape. That is good. I had feared that you might, upon 'seeing' the accident for the first time," actually the second, he thought, "have an adverse reaction to it. I'm glad to see that my fears were unfounded." "I remember the accident now. I still don't remember where we had been or where we were going, but I do remember the part of our trip just prior to the accident. I also remember the accident itself and being thrown just a bit to the side of where my parents and brother were thrown. We were all wearing harnesses, but I guess the force of the impact just severed the harnesses and threw us all out. The only reason I am alive now is because I was thrown a few feet in another direction than the rest of my family. The red in my dream that kept waking me up is the red of the blood. My blood and the blood of my family. This was a very short memory, the color red. I guess I passed out very shortly after noticing all the blood. That is all I remember until the dreams of the regen tanks. "You're amazing, Doctor. You done in a very short time what no one else believed could be done. I think we've discovered the major reasons why I keep waking up and I also think that now I will begin to improve physically even more rapidly. It's so wonderful to have a memory again. Even if the memories that have been uncovered are not exactly pleasant, it is still nice to have them and know about them rather than be scared silly by them in ignorance. I would like to figure out what we were doing all together and why we were in such a hurry on the day of the accident." "We'll continue to work on that, Maryann. I do want to keep an eye on you for a while even though you feel so positive about your recovery now. We want to keep things under control and I'd like to see you recover all of your memory that was lost because of the accident." "Yes, Doctor. I'll see you in a couple of days. Maybe by then I'll be walking again!" Maryann exulted. The newspaper headlines today read "FIRST CLUE IN MANCHESTER MURDERS UNEARTHED." The article went on to say that another murder had been committed. All the murders had occurred within a half mile radius. Though the area has been heavily patrolled of late, another dead body appeared nonetheless. But this time a man was seen moving away from the spot where the murder occurred. "Doctor, I am becoming a nervous wreck. I have had two more blackouts since the other day and who knows what I've done while I've been asleep. I can't continue like this. I've got to get to the bottom of this before I go absolutely crazy and do something foolish." "Mr. Sharmuth, you have to admit that it is very difficult to make progress with something when you have no point at which to begin. We have no clues to aid us in beginning to find out why you are blacking out. We know that it is not a physical problem. All of the tests by the physicians have come up negative. That leaves us with the assumption that if it is not a physical problem that is causing you to black out, then it must be a mental one. Until we find that one little clue to use as a springboard, we will not be making rapid progress. Believe me, I'd like to see progress just as much as you would. But we must keep searching your mind to find that one little clue, that one minor inconsistency. It could be anything. We just have to be very alert and careful so that we don't overlook anything. In so doing there is virtually no way we can move rapidly. Should we move rapidly, we stand a very good chance of overlooking that which we are looking for, whatever it may be." "I understand, Doctor, but I still don't have to like it and I still want quick results. I'm used to getting things done quickly and it is extremely difficult to be patient through all of this." "Let us go over and give the dream monitor another try. This time I want you to concentrate on blacking out for a few minutes before you go to sleep." "Ok. I'll give it a try," Sharmuth sighed heavily. Doctor James pulled the tape out of the monitor after Sharmuth had woken up. He set the tape on his desk, walked back over to the monitor, and helped Sharmuth out of the equipment. "Do you recall anything about this dream? Did concentrating on blacking out do anything - make you feel anything different - remember anything at all?" "Still nothing, Doctor. I don't understand it at all." "Try to concentrate on your blackouts over the next couple of days. Try and stimulate the subconscious so that some of it's thoughts and memories might become conscious. I'll take a look at this tape in a while. Let's hope there is something different on it. Something that can give us a direction to aim in, a starting point." "Ok, Doctor. I'll see you in a couple of days." Sharmuth's recently made tape was very much the same as the other two. There was nothing on the tape that could be used as a starting point to delve further for clues. "It's time to adopt Maryann's positive attitude and not feel that everything we're doing is totally futile," James thought. Time seemed to jump ahead for Doctor James. There had been no progress at all in Sharmuth's case. It was becoming increasingly bewildering. Maryann had continued to improve steadily, but not as rapidly as at first. This was to be expected. The rapid pace of the beginning of her treatment was just too much to expect it to continue. With her case doing so well, he had more time to spend on Sharmuth's case. Sharmuth's case was one instance where a positive outlook had not helped. So far. There had to be something. It was only a matter of time before he stumbled upon it by just moving about blindly. Doctor James arrived in is office earlier than usual one morning. He had a full calendar of appointments in the afternoon but had nothing in the morning. He had planned to look over the last few tapes of Sharmuth's dreams. He had hoped to find something, anything, that might help. In the course of walking across the room to where he stored his tapes, he noticed that the monitor had been left on and a tape was just coming to an end. The record switch was on. James checked over his tapes quickly and determined that this tape was a new tape and not one of the ones he had used just recently. He watched as the tape got closer to the end. The record switch finally shut off and the tape was forwarded to the end and then the monitor shut off. James took the tape out and went over to his playback equipment. He wanted to find out what could possibly be on this tape. How did it get into the monitor and how did the monitor get started up? What was it recording, if anything? How could anything be recorded when there was no one connected to the input gear? He loaded the tape and began to view it. I am being followed. Why am I being followed? I'll have to do something about this. I haven't done anything and he certainly doesn't look at all like a cop. I'm almost home. I don't want him to follow me home. Who knows what he may do. He's probably one of those types who doesn't deserve to live anyway. The world will be much better off without him roaming the streets. There are too many of those about these days. How can they be so cruel and inhumane? They don't deserve to live. This one will not continue to live. I rounded a corner and waited. I looked quickly to make sure that there was no one else around. Even in this city, it can be rather quiet in the early morning hours. There was no one about. He rounded the corner and hurried his pace because he'd lost sight of me. I came from behind him and stabbed him. He died immediately. He didn't even have a chance to emit a sound from the pain. I cleaned the knife off on his clothes and then walked down the street as if nothing had happened. Another dead body in this city will not make any difference at all. There was a quick image of beautiful, peaceful countryside and then a raucous, rowdy scene began. It was a bar. A couple of fights had broken out and the bouncers were in the process of breaking the fight (and a lot of the furniture) up. bodies were being tossed out into the street left and right. Finally, I became one of those bodies. I gracefully picked myself up, shouted obscenities at the bouncers, and started walking away. I didn't think of where I was going until I got a few blocks away. I made a turn and headed for home. After a few more blocks I saw a shadowy figure emerge from a doorway and step into my path. He had a weapon and demanded my wallet. Not being one who is into death, especially my own, I slowly reached for my wallet. A sharp sound came from close by and distracted my mugger for a second. I hit his hand and knocked the gun loose. I was closer to it and made a grab for it. I was quicker than he and now had the gun. This world has no use for this mugger anymore. He is another one of the sort that does not deserve to live. Now he didn't. There were people within hearing range, but not within sight. I quickly removed myself from the scene and then joined the small mob as they approached the dead mugger. It was very easy to do in the confusion. The police arrived after a short wait, asked some questions, and then sent us all home. There were no eye witnesses. Everyone heard the shot. Everything and everyone had disappeared by the time anyone arrived on the scene. I still don't know what happened to the gun. The world is better off now. One more person, who didn't deserve to live anyway, was gone. How can they exist this way. The more I see, the more I confirm the fact they do not deserve to live. Peace. That overwhelming feeling again. Even in minute quantities it was overwhelming. What am I doing in this part of town? The types of people that frequent this part of town are the sort that I would never consort with. So why am I here? I do look rather out of place. In this den of poverty and uncleanliness, I have no business. Certainly no legitimate business. Why am I here? These people don't deserve to live this way. Most of them don't even deserve to live. A man approaches. He is a little drawn and thin, but definitely able- bodied. One can see the strength that could be his through the holes in the rags that the denizens of this demesne call clothes. As he gets even closer the stench becomes rather evident. "Can you spare a dollar, mister?" No dollar. I did talk him into coming home with me to see what life could be like. I was planning on berating him for not doing an honest days work when it was quite obvious that he was a very able-bodied man even in his emaciated condition. All he needed was the will to do a little hard work. Physical labor. Why hadn't he been working? He had obviously been in dire straits for some time, as his condition was not good at all. He certainly could have found work if he'd been willing to go looking. We were almost to my place when I decided that I did not want anyone coming home with me who could not perform an honest day's work when he was certainly more than capable. People like that do not deserve to live. And I wouldn't call what he was doing back in that rat infested hole living. The world is better off without him. He is certainly much better off. I don't know how I managed, but when I realized where I was, he was on the ground, dead. I must've strangled him for I had no weapon. Had he not been so weakened from his style of life, I could never have done him in with my bare hands. As he was though, there was no challenge. He wasn't even strong enough to struggle much. But I did catch him a little off guard too. He didn't deserve to live. How can people exist that way? I turned, there was someone coming this way about 4 blocks away. I turned a corner and disappeared. No one followed. If that person kept walking, he surely would find the body. No matter. He could not possibly have seen me well from that distance. Once again, that overwhelming feeling of peace. This time it lasted for several minutes. There were more images of beautiful, lazy countryside. The soft green and golden yellow suggested a lingering and lasting peace. The most striking thing about the whole image was that there was no life. No animal life. No human life. Doctor James sat in the chair for some time thinking about what he had just viewed. His respect for his dream monitor rose immensely. He thought he had figured out what was happening. The sequences he had just viewed were happenings that went on during Sharmuth's blackout periods. The machine did pick them up, but for some reason did not record them during the sessions with Sharmuth. The person who had done all the killing was Sharmuth. There was no doubt about that. Sharmuth did seem to be the ruthless type, but he did not seem to be the killer type. And why this sudden hatred for the human species. The man thrived on controversy and competition. He needed people so that he would be able to enjoy himself. Why would the machine select just one person to screen out everything that went on in the subconscious mind? I get the distinct feeling that this tape had two separate personalities involved in its making. One was bent on killing and destruction, the other wanted only peace. Total peace. Then it hit him. Total peace. To achieve total peace on this world one would just about have to start from scratch. All life would have to be eradicated. Total peace. Overwhelming peace. Doctor James decided that he had to inform the authorities of what he knew. He would tell them who the murderer was and then he would have to dismantle his machine. That was the worst part of it. The machine had done so much good for so many people. This one case would ruin that record for good. What would life have been like for Maryann without the machine? She's now fully recovered and such a beautiful young woman now that all her parts are proportional again! It is a shame. The authorities would never believe his story though. How could they? The population of the world is being exterminated one by one to achieve total peace? What, this is being done by one man? A 'machine'!? Well, he knew the response he was going to get. But he'd made up his mind. Doctor James picked up the phone and dialed the authorities... Doctor James sat bolt upright in bed, his heart beating rapidly and sweat running down his face. He stared about his dark bedroom for a while before he was able to fall back asleep. Michael Murphy <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank