By Duane Hewitt
Copyright 2016 Duane Hewitt. All Rights Reserved.
Four men occupied the room. One – central to the purposes of the others – sat in the middle. The room was dimly lit; austere and without windows. It was bleak, save for the dark olive paint on the walls, which made the room somehow both soothing but refreshing. One other man sat, leaning forward, before the man in the center of the room. A second man stood perhaps five or six feet back with his arms crossed; observing, analyzing. A fourth man was positioned far back in the room, standing in the dim light and half hidden by shadow; like someone who needed to be there, even wanted to be there, but did not fully want his presence or his identity known.
The seated man looked tired and perhaps just a bit disheveled, but it was evident that he was also someone who was always neat and orderly. He was tired – very tired – but he himself wouldn’t have admitted it; that was all part of his personality and the discipline of his profession; his training and his credo. The man in the chair wanted to cooperate, very much so. In fact, it was because of him that this clandestine meeting was taking place. The man before him had a serious demeanor. He was about mid-50s, with dark receding hair and spectacles.
He spoke again to the man seated before him, courteously and respectfully:
“You’re doing well, Major. We all understand this can’t be easy.”
“Well,” said the man, who might have appeared to an outsider like he was under scrutiny, “we need to know. I need to know. It’s too fantastic; too weird… outrageous, obscene even. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
The one doing the interviewing understood. He cared about the man – but he also understood that a key element of what was being discussed, and what was being discovered was critical; and very much a matter of life and death.
“Hypnosis isn’t an exact science,” said the one doing the interviewing. “The obviously good point here is you – the person you are – and what you’ve experienced, what you’ve been through… plus the fact that you want answers, which you need to know. Would you like some more coffee? How’re you feeling?”
The man shook his head. He almost tumbled: The fatigue.
“No, no,” he said wearily, “not now – later maybe. I’d like to continue.”
The man standing five to six feet away offered his support.
“If you want to rest, Major,” he said, “that’s fine with us. We can pick this up again in a couple of hours if you feel it’ll help. Maybe we should break soon anyway, get some chow and pull back a bit.”
The Major actually laughed. “No, thank you, sir,” he said. “I’d like to keep going.” He chuckled again, almost nervously. “But it does sound preposterous, doesn’t it? I mean… having tea with a giant chipmunk and a giant squirrel, and being asked if I would stay for dinner? Heck, it’s like Wind in the Willows or something… it’s insane, crazy…”
Each man in the room exchanged glances.
“You did say earlier that you had been reading Wind in the Willows to your young son, didn’t you Major?” Asked the General, “And that you yourself enjoyed the stories when you were a youngster?”
The Major nodded. “Yes – yes, sir, that’s right. But unless I’ve suddenly become delusional or out-and-out psychotic, I think we can all agree that six foot squirrels and chipmunks don’t live in a giant, fantasy forest anywhere near the base, or invite air force pilots over for tea.”
For a moment the room became quiet, sullen. The underlying meaning was on every man’s mind, including the major’s, and yet no one wanted to speak of it because the reality, the prospect of what could be transpiring, surpassed the worst of all possible nightmares… sheer, ultimate terror.
It was the doctor who broke the silence.
“Let’s continue then, shall we Major?” he asked pleasantly enough. The Doctor almost seemed to hesitate. He understood the importance – and the necessity – of treading delicately and entering into what could be memories of traumatic experiences and bringing forth those memories to the conscious mind.
“You said you remembered being in flight; involved in maneuvers with your squadron…”
“That’s right,” answered the Major, “yes, following our flight plan, over the Mojave, with a 50,000 ft. ceiling.”
“And that’s when you saw it?”
“Correct, yes. It was just after 0-600 hours, the sun had just begun to come up over the horizon.”
“That’s just it – I don’t remember,” said the Major. “We called in, and gave pursuit, and that’s it… I…I just don’t…”
The Major exhaled heavily. “Well, whatever it was, it was huge, really massive, and then…”
“Well,” said the Major, “that’s it. And the next thing I know I was having tea with that giant chipmunk and squirrel in a wooded forest. It was all like some Brothers Grimm fairy tale come to life.”
“And they asked you if you’d like to stay for dinner.”
“Well, uh… yeah, yes, that’s right. I can’t remember the exact words or how they said it, but essentially yes, yes sir.”
“And the other pilots?” asked the Doctor. “Any word about them? Did you have any thought impressions? Did you see them?”
The Major took a long-winded breath and put his head back. He shook his head. “I – simply – don’t – know,” said the Major, who was now getting ever more weary. A small tear slid down his cheek. “No – no, sir,” he reiterated, “I simply don’t recall.”
Again the speaking stopped. The Major threw his head forward and rubbed the back of his neck. The Doctor exchanged a look with the General, who then fixed his gaze on the man in the back of the room; a man who had not yet spoken.
The General nodded to the Doctor. The Doctor continued.
“Major,” he said kindly but firmly, “I’d like to try the hypnosis again. There’s a barrier that we need to get through, to overcome, agreed?”
There was a feeling of increased urgency in the room, with an intensity that hadn’t existed previously.
“Yes,” said the Major, equally firmly and almost dispassionately. “Yes, sir, I understand.”
The Doctor sat quietly and for a minute without saying a word. Every man in the room was especially quiet. When the Doctor spoke, he had adapted a serene demeanor, and his tone was gentle though reassuring, while being almost monotonous. Each syllable was carefully pronounced. No emphasis was placed on any one word. Gently, assuredly, the Doctor proceeded through his ever calming and seductive dialogue, inducing the sought after trance-like state, as the Major stared forward into the room, looking at nothing in particular. Only periodically did he mutter a soft “yes” or simply acknowledge confirmations to the Doctor with tones in his the back of his throat. The Doctor was expert at his craft. The patient complied. Bit by bit, the fabric of protective subconscious mechanisms were peeled away and the event of July 23rd came to the forefront… and with each new realization, what had happened that awful day and the reality of the horror, was laid bare…
This was no Winds in the Willows, nor was it some enchanted forest of pleasant fairy tales… the location felt huge, vast, but it was dim, almost dark, with striations of light that pierced the envelope of darkness… a bleak, horrible energy encompassed the room… what was it? Cathedral? Spaceship? … No… some kind of strictly governed place, of process and procedure, like triage perhaps, but no – not quite – this was a place where selection took place and where procedures were carried out… horrible, ungodly… and the inhabitants were there… this was no giant squirrel or chipmunk pleasantly inviting a stranger for afternoon tea, these creatures were beyond description… gelatinous… acrid, fowl, and monstrous, possibly seven or eight feet in height, like mollusks, but worse… defilement, dark brown, black, slimy, and there was clearly intelligence, but not like human intelligence – something other; worse… plus there was simply no… what?… no feeling, no empathy, like emotionless voids, just dark… evil – yes, evil – and without form…
The other pilots – where were they? … Oh, yes, yes – horrible! Horrible – the pilots, each of them, six in all, had been… vivisected… to learn, learn what the horrible creatures needed to know…only Major Bryson had been spared, but for something else…selection… again, to learn, and for something more, something other… horrible, awful…what was being planned… Invasion… everything… the whole earth… food sources, amniotic hosts, breeding, domination, slavery of the worst and most horrible kind… of the human race… manipulations of genetic material, starvation, caging, like living death, forced labor on the most terrible, inhospitable moons and planets, participating in the decimation and destruction of other species, all life on earth… human children used for terrible things, missions, retrievals of ghastly weapons… awful…. Awful… the Major started to cry, he began to scream… then –
He was awake; out of it.
There was a moment of quiet. A chill had gone through every man in the room. The Major took a breath – like a stutter – and exhaled, shaking lightly as he did so.
“I’m out of it, aren’t I?” said the Major.
“Yes – I dare say you are,” answered the Doctor. “Do you remember any part of it?” he asked, in reference to the hypnosis.
“I – I don’t know,” answered the Major, “I’m not sure. Dark visions… horrible… something awful… a terrible smell – and screams, terrible ghastly screams,” said the Major.
The Doctor paused and nodded. He frowned with a haunting look on his face that wasn’t intentional. He passed the Major a glass of water. The Major took a sip. Beads of sweat had collected on his face. It was then that the man in the back of the room came forward and touched the Doctor’s arm – an indication to speak in private. The Doctor moved to the back of the room. The General joined them. They kept their voices down.
“Are we done?” asked the General.
“Do you think he knows anything more?” asked the Mystery Man to the Doctor.
“No,” said the Doctor. “That’s it. He’s depleted. I’m surprised how much we got.”
“Just not ‘the when’,” said the Mystery Man.
“Only what he said earlier,” said the General, “that the invasion would come ‘in the blink of an eye’.”
“Yes,” repeated the Mystery Man, “in the blink of an eye.”
The three men became quiet and turned to look at the Major.
“So,” said the Doctor, “is that it then? I can’t keep him on life support indefinitely – and there have been signs of a psychotic break. If he ever realizes what really happened to him…” The Doctor’s voice trailed off. Even as a leading military medical man, this was beyond his tolerances. And he knew he was already facing his own emotional repercussion to the days’ long questioning. He had secretly begun medicating himself.
The Mystery Man made a decision: “That’s it then. General – if you’d please…” with a hand motioning to the door. “Doctor,” said the Mystery Man. “Proceed. I’m sure we’re all in agreement that he needn’t be revived.”
The General and the Mystery Man then left the room. Before departing, one of them turned and said, “Truly awful… a hero. But – we’re all left wondering just what we’re facing and when, and if any of the human race will survive it, or if we should even want to.”
The Doctor, having become fond of the patient, fought to hold back a tear. He returned to the patient.
“Okay, Major,” he said in his best uplifting voice. “You’ve done extremely well, brilliantly in fact. So, we’re going to cut you some slack and let you get a bit of rest.” The Doctor actually managed a smile.
“Great,” responded the Major. “I’m looking forward to seeing my wife – my family,” he continued, “and reporting for duty.” There was a lull. The Major, at least in his mind, began to drift off. He did not return to the vision of the dim room with the dark olive paint. Nor did he wake up again.
And, in reality, there was no austere olive-painted room…
In a large and highly secure domed chamber in a secret wing of a specialized hospital unit located deep underground, the actual room and location of where the Major had responded to questions now overrode the hallucinatory vision that the Major had experienced to help him recall and respond to questions. Nor was the Major ever seated in a chair. He lay, at least, what remained of him, under a sealed canopy with a dozen life-sustaining tubes, cables and wires affixed and inserted into him to help keep him alive: The fractioned man was how the air force found Major Bryson.
Major Bryson had been found with all but one limb removed, as if by some highly advanced surgical process. His genitalia had been fully taken out. Other parts of his body had also been extracted, including one eye and the internal parts of his left ear. Of particular significance, and horrifying, was the fact that a small inner portion of his brain had been removed: No signs of surgery or entry points into the skull could be determined. Ultimately, there was no way to keep the Major alive. This was understood from the outset of the questioning.
The Doctor initiated the release: the Major, a highly respected man, would now fall into the abyss of death. His family, consisting of a loving wife and three adorable little children, would receive a visit from the air force with a concocted lie: The Major had died in maneuvers over the Mojave Desert. The family would receive benefits in standing with air force regulations.
The Doctor drove himself home that night, never quite putting the long hours of questioning out of mind – or what it meant to him and his family, or all life on earth. It was dark when the doctor drove home. He felt the pain of his fatigue and the emotional weight of all he’d experienced. As he drove, he peered up into the clear night sky, and his eyes became wet.
Somewhere, distant, from depths of space unknown and dimensions unimagined, would one day soon, “in the blink of an eye,” come the conquering, the domination, the processing of all human life for the purposes of a superior life form – and, according to what the Major had said, nothing could be done about it – absolutely nothing.
“In the blink of an eye…”
Copyright 2016 Duane Hewitt. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. No part of this work may be copied or transmitted by any means whatsoever without the prior written approval of the author. Duane Hewitt asserts his rights as the author to this work and its plot, themes and characters, under International Copyright and Intellectual Property Laws.