- Books, Literature, and Writing»
- Commercial & Creative Writing»
- Creative Writing
A Strange One
I received an email this morning. A strange one. One of those really off-the-wall ones. The kind that make you wonder if I click this -- then what?
It had to be a joke. Must have been a hacker. Some computer crazy, perhaps. A kid high on meth, needing a few bucks for his next cook.
But the IT Department said that I sent it from my own email address. That there were no hacks last night. That it was me. I did it. All pure bunk.
But it was me. At least I think it was. I checked my video log. And there I am, typing it in. Hunched over the keyboard. Ponytail and all. But I can't see my face. I'm just typing away there.
My hands are shaking now. Was it me? Was this some kind of joke?
I read the email again. Then listened to the interview and watched the video two more times. I read the email slowly this time...
The Email to Me
From: Dr. Marshall Lord, M.D., Greenleaf Mental Health Hospital
To: Dr. Marshall Lord, M.D., Greenleaf Mental Health Hospital
Subject: Therapy Plan "Trust"
RE: Patient: Paul Burnham (Paranoid Schizophrenic/Delusional/Hallucinations/Hyper-Fixation)
The purpose of this email is to conduct a thought experiment. I promised one of my patients I would do it and I will. A type of cooperative therapy, if you will. A way to gain his trust.
I need to find a way to break through to this guy. He's so close to recovery. So here it goes.
It goes something like this. I'm supposed to expose the truth that the world has or is currently being invaded by an alien species. I realize how silly this seems, but again -- this is not about me.
I've arranged that this email will be sent out automatically. I can't stop it. And it contains confidential patient information. But I'm sending it to myself on a secure encrypted server.
Attached to this email is an interview I conducted with a patient on January 1, 2010 at the Greenleaf Home for Mentally Challenged Adults in Turkwood, Alabama. It's an old one, but the only time he agreed to let me record him.
Every session since then, Paul has not been very cooperative.
Following the attached interview is a video. A video I attached at the request of my patient. I can't vouch for its veracity. It looks like any of a million UFO fakes. It's more recent.
Finally, I've turned on my office video camera to record myself doing all of this as a backup to a backup. All for Paul.
Maybe after he sees all of this, I will finally break through to him.
Strange, though, I did awake this morning with a splitting headache and a nose bleed.
-- Dr. Marshall Lord, Greenleaf Mental Health Hospital. March 5, 2018.
P.S., Paul, this is for you. I will send this email and press the bridge of my nose. Then maybe you will finally understand.
Play attachment? Y
It's Not Moving
"Okay...this will be a recorded interview with Paul Burnham, a patient at Greenleaf. Today's date is -- what is it Paul, do you remember?"
"January 1, 2010, Doc. You should get a digital watch."
"I'm Doctor Marshall Lord, Head Psychiatrist at Greenleaf.
"The time is now 1:04 P.M.
"So Paul, you and I have talked at length about the aliens that attacked your wife last year, is that correct?"
"Yep. Repeatedly, Doc. We've been over it often."
"Great, Paul, I'm glad you remember. (Throat clearing sounds.)
"But this time I'd like to record our conversation. Is that okay, Paul?"
"Sure Doc. Go for it."
"Before we get started, Paul -- are you comfortable? Need anything? A glass of water perhaps?"
"No, Doc. I'm fine. Ask away."
"Okay, Paul -- thanks. Now, Paul -- you've been a patient of mine for how long?"
"About a year guess. Ever since they brought me here."
"Okay, and how have you been feeling lately?"
"Better, Doc. But..."
"Well, I haven't changed my mind, if that is what you mean?"
"Okay. So have you been taking your medication?"
"Yes. Sometimes I skip a dose."
"Paul, I understand. So the paranoia is under control then?"
What do you see?
"Okay, Paul. Let's do this. Why don't we go over it again?"
"The whole thing?"
"Just the highlights. Let's hit this thing head on. Please tell me the first thing that happened."
"Well, like I said, there was that news flash on my cell phone that I thought was a joke."
"You want me describe it again?"
"Yes, Paul. You have the floor. Just tell me a little story -- what happened?"
"I was sitting at my desk, at work. You know, I'm an accountant -- was an accountant -- so my head was in numbers. Anyway, my cell phone vibrates and I look over. I have it, you know, give me a few news feeds and stuff."
"That and sports and cooking stuff."
"You're into cooking, Paul?"
"I'm diabetic, Doc. Brownies are my thing. I can make a mean fudge too. Sugar free. I count the carbs and --"
"Okay, but the news feed was about what?"
"It was a news flash. September 2, 2009. It said that a short while ago a flying saucer landed and aliens exited the craft. At this moment, the aliens are holding what appear to be weapons and urging everyone to stay away. The country is on high alert.
"Then there were videos of the aliens attacking people, but not killing them. Just grabbing them and doing something odd.
"I still remember that part, but rest is a bit foggy.
"The news said that terrorism is not suspected. These are not Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians or even the Russians -- and not Mexicans. These are aliens. Beware!
"I thought that the 'beware' part was kinda funny."
"The news said aliens, as in aliens from outer space?"
"Like I said, Doc, I thought it was a joke."
"And what happened then?"
"Well, nothing Doc. I mean I didn't say anything. I wanted to see if anyone else would speak up first."
"Nobody said a thing and I did a search on the net, but nothing. So I thought it had been a joke by some hacker."
"Then what, Paul?"
"Well, I worked the day out and left."
"Okay, Paul, I don't want to prompt you, but remember what you told me last time?"
"About when you were still at work?"
"No. I'm not tracking, Doc."
"You had to use the restroom?"
"Oh, yeah. All the crappers were full, so I held it."
"Oh, I thought that maybe everyone was asleep on the toilets. I swore I heard them snoring."
"Okay, Paul. Then what?"
"You mean after that?"
"I thought it was really quiet at the office. I mean no phones were ringing and it seemed that everyone had taken a long lunch. For a while there I thought I'd forgotten about an important meeting. But I saw Hal's head in the cubicle at the end and he's always on top of the meetings. So I worked out the day, like I said."
"And nothing else about the office?"
"Well, I did see drops of blood near the coffee machine. Fresh. I thought it odd that nobody had cleaned up their mess."
"Okay. So now you're driving home. Anything unusual?"
"Well, there was no traffic at all. So I checked my watch. My digital watch. You know, to make sure I wasn't crazy and that my cell phone time was right."
"They both jived. It was 5:05 P.M."
"Some of my car's radio stations were out."
"Okay. Was that normal? I mean was your car radio broken?"
"Not until then."
"Okay. Then what happened?"
"I had quiet drive home. Except for all of the saucers -- or funny upside down pyramid looking things."
"Explain that one again, Paul."
"Yes. What did you see? How many? Where?"
"They were everywhere, Doc."
"They were flying?"
"Some were. Some were, you know, just hovering. A lot were on the ground. On buildings. Sitting out it in the open."
"Okay, Paul. What color were these saucers?"
"Silvery, I guess. With one blinking light at the bottom of the pyramid."
"I'm sorry, Paul, I'm just taking a few notes. Go on."
"Thousands of them. And aliens everywhere. Aliens -- they were grabbing people and doing something, then letting them go. The aliens came out of the little lights that sort of fell from the pyramid things.
"I couldn't see what they were doing to the people then, but I know now."
"Okay, but then, at that time, you did not know?"
"So you drove home while you watched all of these alien creatures -- grab people?
"Why did the aliens ignore you?"
"I can't say. But now I think I know."
"I have mental health issues, Doc. They don't like the crazies."
"Okay, Paul. So you drove home unmolested? And you made it home and parked in your driveway?"
"Yep. And like I said, that's when I saw the one with Charlotte."
"Go on Paul. I'm a doctor. My job is to try to help. The only way I can do that is if you tell me what happened."
"But I'm just crazy, Doc. Right? I mean, why is everything so vivid, but parts seem missing?"
"Now relax, Paul. Take a moment. Clear your mind, like I've taught you. We'll figure this out together."
"I step out in the driveway and it's there with Charlotte."
"Take your time, Paul."
"It's there. Just standing. It stares at me. But it does more than that. It's like drilling into my head -- my thoughts.
"I guess I was hallucinating. I've had that problem since I was a kid, but I'm good with numbers, Doc."
"Paul, I know you are good with numbers. But try to relax. You're sweating. Try not to feel it. Be outside of yourself. Like you're watching a movie."
"Kinda hard, Doc. But I'll give it a go."
"Good. Now, please continue."
"The thing -- I guess I should describe it, huh?"
"It's short, dressed in an opaque one-piece suit thing. I can see its skin, grey with like flecks of purple or something. And its weird lungs, pumping too fast. Almost panting, like an overheated cat.
"So it just stares at me from my own driveway. It's in my way. I remember thinking it needs to get out of my way, but that's all I can think. My thoughts are like, scrambled. And it's hard to move, like I was in a weird dream. You know like the kind where you try to run, but your legs are really heavy and slow."
"Yes. We've all had those. And why do you think it was not a dream?"
"Charlotte was there and I always know when I'm hallucinating."
"I get a metallic taste in my mouth."
"The thing takes her."
"What are you thinking about, Paul?"
"Charlotte. She was screaming, fighting. Begging me to help, but -- "
"You were frozen?"
"I swear; I was like a damned stone. The little beast, it, it snarled at me then. And then it put it in her."
"What did it put in Charlotte?"
"It looked like a small black thorn. That's how I remember it."
"How did it put that 'thorn' in Charlotte?"
"She screamed. Oh, God she tried to fight and I --"
"How did it put it in?"
"It cut her and she bled, but by then she was limp. And I swear that the thing smiled and looked back at me. I was mad as hell."
"Where did it cut Charlotte?"
"I was so mad at it...it cut her in her nose. It jammed the thorn in her nostril. She bled a lot."
"Paul, that is not what really happened is it?"
"Please, Paul. Think back to then. Was there an alien or was it you that hurt Charlotte?"
"Listen, Doc. I know nobody believes me. Charlotte even chides me about it when she visits. She says she just 'fell.' But Doc, she is not my wife any longer. She's gone."
"I'm serious. Just send her for an XRAY or a CT Scan. You'll see it. It controls her, Doc. They took whatever Charlotte was and put like, I dunno, like a cheap remote control or something."
"So, where is Charlotte? I mean I spoke with her when she visited you on Wednesday and she seemed fine."
"It's not her and I can prove it."
"They reboot every night."
"She does -- they reboot her mind or something."
"Okay, Paul. You got me stumped. Why would they do that?"
"Not sure, but there's a pressure-point button."
"I accidentally found it."
"Her reboot button."
"If you press the bridge of their noses they are out for about a minute and they can't remember anything after."
"Okay, Paul, I'll be sure to try that technique."
"They will fight you. You have to do it from behind, unexpected."
"Okay. But Paul?"
"Why are these aliens installing these devices in our heads?"
"Past tense. They've already installed them on everyone, I think."
"Okay, but why? Are they going to take over the world? Eat us? Why, Paul? Why are they here?"
"I think they are taking our thoughts."
"Not sure. I think they sell them or need them. Maybe they're like memory vampires."
"Do I have an alien implant?"
"Do you get nose bleeds after a bad headache?"
"Okay, here's a good way to know if you have one. It worked with Charlotte. Record yourself, like now -- like we are doing now -- then press the bridge of your nose."
"Okay, Paul. As soon as I end this I'm going to try your technique.
"I tell you what Paul, we'll devise a way so that you can test me -- to see if I've been compromised."
"You won't remember the test, Doc."
"We'll figure something out."
The time is 1:42 P.M. That will bring this interview to a conclusion."
A crashing sound wakes Paul Burnham. It was Dr. Lord. He was yelling in the corridor. Paul jumped from his bed and peered into the hallway.
Three orderlies were holding Dr. Lord on the floor. One had his arm wrapped around his forehead. A stranger, one Paul had never seen before, stepped into the corridor from a side office.
"I sent it Paul!" It was Dr. Lord. "It's out! They can't stop it!"
They made eye contact, just as the stranger, dressed in a translucent jumpsuit placed a device over his forehead. Dr. Lord's back arched and he screamed.
At that same moment, the alien inhaled, its ugly yellowish external lungs or organs, pumping madly. It looked like it was getting -- no it couldn't be -- it looked like it was getting "high!"
It turned and smiled.
© 2016 jgshorebird