‘Orange 11: whispered on the wind’

Getting the truth out of Bea was like pulling teeth. Her undeniable loyalty to them was obvious and everything she volunteered was circumspect. For all we knew, her cooperation and confessions were given with the sole purpose of misleading us. Like any effective investigator, we asked a few control questions where we already knew the truth.

From that simple deduction method, we gauged the factualness of her responses and established a ‘statement dependability baseline’. If we had caught her in significant lies, it would’ve cast serious doubts about the questionable disclosures we couldn’t independently verify. While not fool-proof, It was a good sign that she was admitting the truth in matters we had already verified.

Having access to an insider was a golden opportunity for us but the whole scenario was precarious at best. Our window of interrogation was too short. We weren’t prepared to kidnap her indefinitely. Doing that would have opened up another level of logistical problems. We had to act quickly to extract as much data as possible before they missed their official ‘go between’. They’d surely become suspicious if she didn’t ‘check in’ at their predetermined time or place.

I had a roundtable meeting with the senior members of the organization to discuss what our next move should be. The situation was so new and fluid that it felt odd for Beatrice to not be there. Of course our ‘guest of honor’ was safely locked away in the security room. It cut me to the quick that we had a malicious infiltrator in our ranks. One who’d been actively involved in assisting the very enemy we were trying to expose and destroy. There was an important lesson to be learned from such a humiliating experience. Never underestimate them again. I drew from that mistake and posed some tough questions to my esteemed colleagues.

“Do you think we can accept what she tells us at face value? Even if we decide we can believe most of her disclosures, how can we be sure there aren’t important details still being withheld? She’s not likely to volunteer anything significant on her own. I feel she could be coerced into telling us more important details of their species, if we only knew the right questions to ask. It’s one thing to truthfully answer what we put before her. We’d be lucky to achieve that from an enemy combatant but so far she seems to be honest with us. It’s quite another thing to expect full disclosure and transparency. Beatrice is not going to volunteer relevant details out of the blue. We have to figure out those things and ask her, point-blank. Lastly, how long can we reasonably expect to hold her before ‘the Lemurians’ notice her absence? They surely have an agreed upon plan in case her cover is compromised.”

“Make no mistake, keeping anyone restrained and in custody is highly illegal.”; Our legal expert advised in relation to my last question. “Not only is the interrogation itself illegal; it would definitely qualify as torture under several federal statutes. We aren’t law enforcement officers and have no state-sanctioned or elected authority to perform these actions.”

I glared at Jim Campbell with a furious intensity which must have startled several observers at the meeting. He immediately sought to reassure me that he wasn’t against what we were doing (on principle). Only that we were breaking several felony laws and could come under heavy prosecution for our illegal actions.

“We would be labeled as a terrorist organization by the FBI because they don’t believe us yet. Someone will come looking for her eventually. When that happens, we will be in ‘hot water’ for false imprisonment and other federal felony charges. As your legal advisor, it is my duty to remind you and everyone present how serious kidnapping is. Even under these extraordinary circumstances.”

I looked at the man in stunned disbelief. We were at the edge of proving a worldwide conspiracy of murderous lizard-like humanoids, and he was concerned about legal consequences! Clearly, the full impact of our discovery hadn’t registered with some people; but it did trigger a vital follow-up response.

“I’m not criticizing you, or against the proceedings, Megan.”; He tried to reassure me. “Nothing could be further from the truth. I fully support this mission and recognize how crucial it is that we coax the truth out of Beatrice. We ALL do. I just wanted to make it clear that we’ve went rogue. We surpassed serious ideological lines. We’ve rapidly transformed from a philosophical grass-roots, conspiracy exposure organization; to that of radical, violent activists. It’s all happened at such a head-spinning pace for us that we are still trying to come to grips with the abrupt transition. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we truly ‘believed’. Honestly we did, on an intellectual level; but we didn’t REALLY believe. If you know what I mean. Now we are starting to understand the absolute hell you went through with these monsters and what has to be done about them. We just need some time to process it all.”

All of a sudden, the elevated level of seriousness hit me too. I realized how much danger we were in. I’d been so gung-ho to find out what she knew, that I forgot how much they wouldn’t want her to speak! The last time damning evidence was about to be revealed to the public, they slaughtered everyone present to stop it from being released! As harmful as Greg’s announcement would have been to the Lemurians, proving Bea’s involvement with them was far more devastating. They would come for all of us!

“Unfortunately we don’t have time for everyone to adjust to their new level of ‘activism’. We need to move her immediately.”; I exhorted the team. “Not because I’m worried the police will raid this facility and take us to jail. As soon as the Lemurians realize that we’ve uncovered their espionage, they will assault the whole compound and kill everyone here who could be a witness. It’s obvious now why they always seemed to be two steps ahead of us. It’s because they were, and Bea was their secret liaison. I’m enacting protocol 14.”

I looked around at the room full of highly agitated, confused people. It was one of countless memos I had circulated during the past year. Maybe I could forgive them for overlooking the strategic plan but unfortunately Beatrice would still remember it. Since she knew, they probably did also. I had to scrap that idea and find a plan she wasn’t privy to. That wasn’t going to be easy. She had been involved in just about everything.

“We have to immediately relocate to a safe rendezvous location which Beatrice doesn’t know about. The secrecy of our headquarters here has long ago been blown. The only reason everyone present in the room isn’t dead yet is because they were extracting valuable intel about us through their double agent. That is over now. The location of our new headquarters has been ‘whispered on the wind’ several times. Those of you who understood my little hint, tell no one else where it is. Protect your families and make sure you aren’t followed.”

Less than two hours after relocating to the new classified location and destroying our on-site records, the old facility was breached. An army of determined Lemurians raided the old headquarters and ransacked the place. We were smart enough to live stream the whole assault on hidden cameras. The live feed went viral immediately and was watched ten million times before our server crashed from too much traffic. To say we got out in the nick of time was an understatement. For the astute members who decoded my vague clue to the new headquarters and escaped with their lives, they were absolute believers now. It was real in the grittiest sense of the word.

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‘She’s come undone’ (as read by Bedtime readers)

https://bedtimelisteners.podiant.co/e/35862af448cc4c/

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‘Orange 10: the apostate speaks’

“Dating back to prehistoric times, images of humanoid reptilian beasts have adorned the walls of dozens of ancient civilizations. For thousands of years in Mayan temples, Egyptian pyramids and Sumerian ruins; we’ve seen direct evidence of an insidious race of bipedal reptiles but assumed they were only mythological folklore. In our arrogance, we refused to accept that another species could topple our evolutionary superiority. We believed that our technological progress separated us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Meanwhile, these surviving ancestors of the dinosaur age have slithered and crept among us, undetected and unchallenged. They are neither myth nor dark legend, ladies and gentlemen. These horrifying reptilian demons are absolutely real and have been around since the very dawn of man, waiting to seize our overconfident, trusting civilization.”

Thus began a dramatic voice-over narration segment on our revamped website. Search engines redirected interested parties to our growing organization and FAQ pages. The scientific consensus was that we were a bunch of ‘tin foil’ hat wearing crackpots but every day we had more visitors. Slowly, the tide was creeping toward a reserved level of acceptance. We migrated from the ranks of fringe conspiracies to a more ‘A-list’ range; akin to UFO’s, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster. Even a modest shift in perspective was seen as significant progress.

I could tell Beatrice was starting to pick up on my informational ‘cold shoulder’. Once she realized her cover was blown, she would serve no purpose to us anymore. I decided to dangle some juicy ‘bait’ in front of her one last time. We had a meeting where I laid out a series of extensive plans for our organization’s future. I felt certain she would use the false information to attempt to advise them of our intentions. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Placed on high alert, our IT security officer informed me of a suspicious transmission. It had been sent at 3 AM to a ghost IP address. By that tech-speak, he meant a web address that was forged or difficult to locate. While the destination was disguised and the message was encrypted, the sender’s ID was easy enough to track down. It came from Bea’s work computer and was sent using her unique login credentials.

Beatrice denied everything from the very beginning. She accused enemy forces of hacking our server to set us up and cast doubt about her loyalty. After verifying that no cyber forgery had taken place, she became more belligerent and nasty. I’m not proud of what occurred next. Frankly it got ugly but we did what we had to do. Not only for our lives, but for the fate of the entire world. She was our first direct connection to ‘them’. It presented an invaluable opportunity to squeeze intelligence from her. We realized that no law enforcement agency in the world would interrogate her on the basis of our controversial discovery, but we could.

Bea clung to her innocence for a long time. She cried. She begged us to stop. Then she grew hostile and very defiant. The more ‘sensitive’ members of our team accused us of mental and physical torture. They demanded we abandon our ‘strong arm’ methods and just cut her loose. We didn’t. I felt incredibly guilty and had several agonizing moments of doubt about our brutal methods but slowly we wore her down. Eventually to the rawest essence of truth.

Through several well-known, highly illegal coercion techniques, we twisted the proverbial knot until she was ready to snap. Most of us were on the same page with our actions. She was protecting unprecedented terrorists of a non-human species; but a vocal minority within our ranks felt those ‘persuasion’ methods were unconscionable and amounted to torture. They were worried that we (as a race of people) would lose our humanity and gentle dignity by devolving down to their level. As far as I was concerned, lofty, highbrow ethics and civil rights took a distant back seat when someone who was actively involved in working against our right to live.

The full confession (which came shortly afterward) was still disputed by a few dissenters as ‘coerced under heavy duress’. I disagreed. In this particular case, the end justified the barbaric means. If a person only tells you what you want to hear, they can’t offer facts which the innocent would be ignorant to. She slipped up and admitted to many things which proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. She also offered up details which only an insider to the reptilian cabal would know. I was anxious to finish breaking her will to resist. She was part of a murderous conspiracy to rape and butcher human beings. I was offended beyond words that her own human half wasn’t bothered by such a fatal conflict of interest.

I’ve been told by the staff that I had to be physically pulled off of her. At that moment I wasn’t pretending to be ‘bad cop’. After many years of repressed fury and pain over being brutalized by those unholy things, I really WAS ‘bad cop’ at the moment. The way she’d pretended to care about the victim’s and their deaths infuriated me the most. So many decent people suffered inhuman cruelty and ugly debasement in their scaly claws; and she was protecting the fork-tongued devils. All of my buried anger came to the surface. I lunged at her again but was quickly restrained. In the end, cooler heads than mine prevailed. Dr. Hastings and the others knew how valuable she would be to our cause once she finally broke down and stopped resisting.

“They just want to live!”; She finally blurted out in desperation after a marathon session of unequivocal denial. “Ever since their island sank more than twelve thousand years ago, they’ve sought a new place to call their own. They are a proud race which were once worshiped as gods by our prehistoric ancestors. Over time they were rejected as ‘demons’ and pushed back into the shadows. They just seek a place in our society where…”

A place in ourrrrrr society?”; I screamed. “They either massacred or raped just about every person in two assisted-living homes; including myself! Now they’ve butchered and slaughtered more innocent people at the television station. There’s no telling how many other places they ‘sought acceptance’ like that over the centuries.”; I sneered at her angrily.

How someone could be so naive, I couldn’t fathom. She was far worse than the ignorant or unaware public at-large. She really knew the truth. She had first-hand experience with their conqueror-and-destroy-all mentality. Somehow she dismissed it as a social misunderstanding! I was livid over that level of cognitive dissonance. Beatrice was the most dangerous type of philosophical apostate. She actively worked against her own kind in secret, for the betterment of a bloodthirsty race of lizard’esque killers.

Harold took me aside. He reminded me that despite having an extremely legitimate reason for my indignant fury, those emotions were getting in the way of the investigation. I had to find a way of keeping an objective facade; at least when I was in the improvised interrogation room with her. Later on in privacy, I could vent all I wanted. Essentially she was a prisoner of war and no matter what my own feelings were for her, or her misguided ‘cause’, I had to keep my personal wrath in check. It wasn’t pleasant medicine that I received from Dr. Hastings but it was the ‘pill’ I needed.

“It may seem savage or barbaric to us but the Lemurian race doesn’t have a concept of sexual permission or consent. The males just take their mates in a show of dominance.”

At last we had a descriptive term for ‘them’. I forced myself to listen to Bea’s brainwashed justifications for all the vicious rapes and murders they committed. Pragmatically, it was necessary to collect the facts and obtain a detailed confession. It wasn’t an easy thing to do but I did my best to keep my rising rage in check. The more details we learned about ‘The Lemurians’, the closer we could come to destroying them.

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‘Secret grotto’

For most people, the quality of their eyesight diminishes as they grow older. It’s just an unfortunate effect of old age. This decline normally occurs in a gradual, subtle way which isn’t obvious to the person. Sadly that wasn’t to be the case for me. In my mid twenties, I developed a degenerative eye condition which rendered me almost legally blind in a very short period. I had no time to come to terms with the loss. Frankly, it was devastating.

I can still see colors and vivid light but cannot distinguish what I’m looking at. Even the thickest ‘Coke bottle’ glasses aren’t of much help. Everything is just an intense blur. Corrective surgery is also out of the question so I resigned myself to the depressing life of a ‘vision impaired’ lady.

While I felt deeply sorry for myself, I did have an advantage over those who’d been blind since birth. At least I had normal vision for twenty four years. Also, I still have strong visual memories of my regular surroundings from before everything faded. I’ve never liked the term ‘disabled’ and tried for a long time to prove I could get by like ‘normal’ sighted people. Determination and stubbornness can be a real asset to a person facing challenges, in small doses. Giving up doesn’t really help anyone but having a healthy sense of reality is equally important. Realistically there needs to be a balance in those areas.

I was still between the bargaining and denial stages when I decided to go and explore the forest behind my grandparents house. Having to give up driving was a crushing blow to my independence but even I knew I had no business behind the wheel. Walking the woods however, was different to me. I knew them like the back of my hand. I was certain the terrain hadn’t changed significantly in the ten years since I had mapped out the deer paths and creek beds. I saw a personal expedition to explore those trails as a chance to regain some of my independence back.

My sister Becky drove me over there but was dead-set against the woods excursion. Everyone was. They knew how stubborn I could be; and that was a recipe for disaster in their minds. They made it abundantly clear where they stood on the idea. Grandma even said; “A person in denial will take dangerous risks they are overconfident about.” She was too polite to come right out and ask me not to. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I was determined to go. I pretended to listen to their sincere concerns and then put on my hiking boots. Nothing was going to deter me.

I was barely past the back yard when I heard Becky unsuccessfully shadowing me. I turned around and said; “Look. I have my cell phone in my pocket. If I have trouble, I’ll call you, ok? I know these woods. You know that I know them. We must have walked them a hundred times as kids. I’m going to the ‘secret’ grotto. Please let me do this, for me.”

Once she realized I could hear her noisily trampling the brush behind me, she dropped the pretense and gave up. I guess I finally got through to her. She didn’t even bother trying to talk me out of it anymore after that. She just turned around and let me be. At last, I was on my own.

I must admit, I had a few missteps and stumbles along the way. There are natural landmarks I intended to use as a guide but my navigation skills were mostly based on line-of-sight. Something I couldn’t count on anymore with a foggy two-foot visual range. My concept of space between those landmarks was skewed a bit too. After a few unintentional detours, I made it to my coveted destination: a hidden spot back in the hills which Becky and I referred to as ‘the grotto’.

The place was so secluded that we only discovered it ourselves by trial and error. The two of us spent many happy times there playing as kids. I had such great memories of it that I thought making the trek one last time would help relive the nostalgia. It was grown up a bit from what I could tell since our last teenage jaunt. Of course Becky and I kept the foliage trampled down when we frequented it. Now it was covered with vines, saplings, and overgrown bushes. I still managed to feel my way into the familiar opening.

From memory I made my way over against one of the sides of the cave. As kids, we rarely went in very far because we didn’t have a flashlight. For the same general reason, I kept to the first 20 feet or so on this visit. At all times I could still ‘see’ the entrance because rays of sunlight were much brighter than the deep blackness of the inner chamber. My mind filled in the visual details from past memory. As I sat there drinking in the accomplishment of feeling my way to our hidden childhood haunt, I heard the distinctive sounds of something large approaching.

At first I assumed it was my sister coming to check on me. I wasn’t aggravated about that. She let me find my own way and was probably coming to join in the fun. Then I realized the sounds of crunching twigs and brush being pushed aside indicated more than one person! I started to panic. I couldn’t very well get up and flee away from them, nor could I safely retreat back into the cave. Whoever it was, they had me at a considerable disadvantage. I hoped they were benevolent.

“Hello?”; I spoke nervously. I hoped that by speaking first, It wouldn’t startle them. After all, I was the one hiding inside the edge of darkness. I heard three individuals stop mid-step from my abrupt announcement.

“I used to come here and play with my sister as a child.”; I continued. “After losing my eyesight recently, I wanted to see if I could find this peaceful spot again, by feel alone.”; I hoped that by volunteering more information about myself, it would put ‘them’ at ease. An agonizing amount of time passed before one of them spoke.

“Hello.”; A distinctively female voice replied. “We were just exploring the woods ourselves. Myself and my two children. We’ll leave you be. Enjoy.”

“No. No. Please join me!” I was so relieved it was a woman and kids. I felt instantly much safer knowing I wasn’t trapped in the hidden cave with three burly hunters. I could sense a certain hesitancy but in the end, the three of them accepted my invitation to join me. I told them how Becky and I spent summer vacation at grandmother’s house when we were off from school. My new companion introduced herself as Malena. Her fraternal twins were named Rufus and Mari.

Malena was a single mother raising her kids and trying to teach them to be independent. I felt bad for her. It couldn’t be easy raising two children alone but she dismissed the notion that it was a big deal. Their father was a deadbeat who did nothing to help rear them and was abusive at times. They were better off without him around, I assured her. I could tell Mari and Rufus were the ‘apples of her eyes’. The kids mostly played around the mouth of the cave while Malena and I chatted.

I shared personal details about myself and my family. Probably too personal. We had some belly laughs. Her kids ran back and forth with the energy of a couple of wild animals. I talked about my hopes and dreams for the future; and I also unburdened myself about how devastating it was to lose my eyesight so suddenly. It was very cathartic and I was glad I made the trip. In those short couple of hours I felt like she and I became good friends. She was a very warm, caring soul but I sensed something was amiss in her life. I didn’t want to pry too much but I suspected they were homeless; and living off the land.

By that time, all ambient rays of the sun seemed to have faded away. I couldn’t detect any glow outside the cave mouth. The idea of going back to Grandmas house in the dark didn’t bother me at all though. With my extreme visual impairment, it was basically the same all the time except for a bright gleam during the day. In my condition it made little difference but I knew that my sister would be searching for me. I didn’t want her to have to deal with the handicap of darkness. “Has night fallen?”; I asked Malena.

“Yes, the sun has gone down.”; She confessed. I seemed to be more worried about that than she did.

“Don’t you and the twins need to be getting ‘home’?” It was a loaded question and we both knew it. She didn’t answer and I realized what her silence meant. “You and the children live in the woods, don’t you? Don’t be embarrassed. I know you are doing the best that you can for them. Taking them away from an abusive father is a brave first step but this cave doesn’t offer enough shelter from the elements. We’ve got to get you and them into a warm bed. They need nutritious food too. If you’ll follow me to my grandma’s house, I know she’ll put the three of you up, until you can…”

Malena interrupted. “I appreciate your offer but you don’t understand. We can’t do that.”

“Why not?”; I inquired with sincere worry for their well being. “He can’t find you at her house.”; I tried to reassure her. “Even if he could, you need to take out a restraining order for your protection. The police can help.”

She didn’t say anything. I assumed she was mulling it over but was too proud to accept my charity. Just as I made the offer, I heard something in the distance. It was too faint at first but grew steadily louder as the source approached. It was Becky. She was yelling for me. I shouted back that I was in the grotto and perfectly fine. A bright beam of light cut through the darkness of the cave. Then there was a cold, disjointed silence.

“Becky, I’d like you to meet Malena and her two children, Rufus and Mari. I ran into them here at the cave and we’ve become fast friends in the past couple hours. I’m going to invite them to stay with Grandma for a little while until Malena gets back on her feet.”

Neither my sister nor Malena spoke.

It was incredibly awkward. “Becky? Is that you? This is…” Instead of responding, I just heard heavy, uneven breathing echoing around the cave.

“Tracy. Please come toward my voice… slowly, ok?”; Becky prompted.

I was about to chew her out for being rude to my new friend but there was an urgency in her voice which caused me to let it slide. I rose up and wobbled unsteadily toward her flashlight beam. A fierce, animal growl behind me broke the silence. Obviously she could see something troubling which I could not. I was worried that some wild animal had crept up behind all of us in the cave. Worrying for the safety of her kids, I suggested for Malena to gather up the twins to get them away from the source of the inhuman snarl, also.

Becky hissed impatiently at me: “Tracy, who are you talking to? There are no other people here but us! There’s a large mama bear and two cubs directly behind you. They have piercing red eyes and look very hungry. We need to exit the den and hope they don’t attack us. I held out my hand and fanned the air until she grabbed it. We slowly backed out of the grotto and crept away as fast as we could. The two of us didn’t breath a sigh of relief until we bolted the barrel lock on Grandma’s front door.

I’m not sure Becky believes me about the intimate, supernatural conversation I had with Malena and her cubs. Why would anyone? It sounds like the ranting of a lunatic but I swear it actually happened. Honestly I feel like they wouldn’t have harmed either of us but I guess we’ll never know the truth for sure. Regardless, I hope they remain safe in the grotto. If there’s a silver lining to this terrible blindness, it’s that it’s given me surreal experiences and different perspectives I wouldn’t ordinarily have.

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‘Discrimination of the tomb’

Everyone thinks that the dead are asleep. I can’t speak for everyone but as for me, I’m wide awake and aware of everything. Namely, the stiflingly silence of this dark coffin. My neighbors in the adjacent plots are mostly quiet. Occasionally they moan or plead for release from their caskets but for the most part, it’s as silent as.. well, as silent as a tomb. Forgive the nod to the obvious.

No one really gives these earthen prisons enough forethought. The pillow is flat and hard. There’s no headroom. I have noting to do for entertainment and apparently I’m allergic to the lace material lining it. I’ve broken out in hives and lesions. The nearest drug store is probably miles away and even if it was just down the street, I don’t have any money in my pocket. I’ve lost the ability to speak clearly so I couldn’t even beg for a tube of lip balm to soothe my extremely chapped lips. All in all, being deceased is no picnic.

Even six feet down below the surface, I hear things. The birds twittering in their melodic tongue. Children asking their parents what our headstones are for; or grave digging equipment ‘making room’ for one more permanent resident. While it’s heavily muffled by packed dirt between my burial plot and the outside world, some sound does manage to travel through; directly to my ears. My hollow eyes would well-up with bittersweet emotion from the beauty of it all. That is, if I still had tear ducts, or eyelids for that matter.

Even at the scorching height of summer, the ground I’m encased in and my aching bones never really thaw out. I’m not sure who’s idea it was to drain all the blood from my corpse but at times like this, a little bit would sure come in handy. Would you believe they don’t even bury most people with pants anymore? My body viewing at the funeral home was all for show. It’s damn chilly down here in the hole without natural body heat or socks to cover my exposed toes. If only I could find a way to claw myself out of this old burial box, I could track down some trousers and a decent pair of shoes. Life; or ummm death, would be so much better then.

I’d stroll up and down the streets again, enjoying the sunshine and the unmuffled sounds of the world around me. I’d also help dig out my neighbors at the cemetery. Surely they too would like to shuffle about and wander among the living again. Imagine how glorious it would be if the living and the dead could simply cohabitate in peace above ground? It’s inhumane and torture to confine us this way. Of course there’s the little matter of ‘brains’.

Let me clear something up right now. We don’t crave brains out of malice, malnutrition, or a protein deficiency. We don’t even have a physical appetite anymore. It’s about our burning desire to regain the knowledge we possessed in life (since it slowly slips away after we die). As our minds physically decay, so do our dreams, memories and education! Through the osmosis of consuming fact-engorged medulla oblongatas of the living, we regain those hopes and dreams; albeit for a very short time. Unfortunately the ‘high’ wears off and the euphoria we experience also decays. It’s a never ending chain of mental addiction to grey matter. What we really need is a treatment, not to be ostracized for our disease.

I’m hopeful that with time and education, the living can soon put aside their discriminatory prejudice against the dead. It’s unfair and hurtful to us. We are human beings too. Just because we no longer have a pulse doesn’t make us any less deserving of sunlight and freedom above ground. That is a violation of our inalienable civil rights. Please help us call attention to the injustice of hate against the dead. Only you and the other esteemed members of the ACLU can take this fight to the Supreme Court. Without you, our moaning voices will never be heard above ground!

Thank you kind ladies and sirs;

The corpse formerly known as Albert Ball

Plot 173

Midvale cemetery

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‘Orange 9: a rising voice of urgency’

Although horrific and tragic, the violent murders of Greg and the TV studio staff weren’t completely in vain. I tried to remind our members of that. The sheer, brutal madness of their gory deaths got the public to talking. Skepticism, criticism, and even angry denial were completely natural reactions to the startling statements we released to the world. Over time, the people might reconsider our radical ideas and disturbing manifesto. What was important was that we provided the people with unflinching facts about the merciless beings behind the murders. It was up to them to either reject or embrace the truth.

While the authorities combed through mountains of evidence and pursued conventional suspects, I made secret plans to further our agenda. Beatrice tried to get me to disclose my upcoming plans, under the guise of helping organize them. If I shielded her too much from my daily itinerary, she might realize I suspected her. On the other hand, if I remained completely open, all my legitimate mission strategies would be compromised. It was a real balancing maneuver to act as if I didn’t believe she was working for ‘them’. Somehow I feigned trust in her while sharing innocuous details.

Ultimately, I did my best to act ‘casual’ when I was around Bea. I shared a few insignificant things and predictable strategies with her to maintain the trust facade. Later when I switched gears or completely went against my stated itinerary, I’d blame it on a whimsical ‘last minute‘ change of heart. Even pretending to be impulsive in my actions would appear suspicious after a while. As a member of the organization’s inner circle, she was used to being ‘in the know’. If I was too erratic, it might be justifiable grounds for her to try to usurp my position and take over. I had to stay ahead of that.

Unbeknownst to the police or us, there was partially uploaded raw footage of the studio massacre, in ‘the cloud’. Because the production editors worked off-site, the footage made its way to a nearby processing lab. Despite the feed only being four minutes and fourteen seconds long before it cut off, it soon became the most discussed ‘secret’ footage in history. It was a textbook example of something going ‘viral’.

At first the station editors forgot about the automatic video upload. With the grizzly deaths of everyone they knew at the TV studio, it was the last thing on their minds to deal with. Over 18 hours passed before someone realized that whatever was on the raw footage could help solve the murders. It was turned over to the detectives immediately; but not before a conspiracy buff on the staff made a bootleg copy.

On the footage were the regular pretape production rituals practiced by the staff, as well as light banter by the staff and guests. Then at the 93 second mark, hell breaks loose! Shrieks pierce the air, just out of view. A production assistant runs across the screen in front of Greg and the host. Before any of them can inquire what is going on, a faint, blurry glimpse of one of ‘them’ is partially visible in the frame for a couple of seconds. It was the first ever documented evidence of their existence! I could hardly believe our luck but mourned the carnage and loss of life the footage reflected.

Bloodcurdling screams are heard off camera and then an unmitigated panic ensues. The TV cameras pan chaotically left and right past their ordinary stage axis. While shaking and highly out of focus, they show the first of seven savage murders. Then even more distinctive footage of the diabolical lizard race is visible as several of them slither past the rolling cameras and begin to torture and maim the support staff. Long before it was viewed by a single member of the police investigators, the pirate footage was watched by ten thousand amateur bloggers on dozens of BitTorrent sites. It was a tiny ray of truth and hope piercing through the darkness.

After that, there was no putting the genie back in the bottle. ‘The WRBZ lizard massacre’ was shared several million times over the next few days! When the FCC tried to take it down at one viewing source, it was cloned and uploaded to a dozen mirror sites and seen by countless waves of conspiracy enthusiasts. Some of them were already aware of our mission focus. It didn’t take much for the internet at large to recognize the chilling connection between our desire to expose them, and the brutal murder of everyone at WRZB.

As controversial as my autism statement had been, it was nothing compared to the shocked frenzy over the pirated studio footage. It trended on all social media sites under the very auspicious hashtag; #Lizardkillers. The gritty video was circulated and discussed across the globe. Some people claimed it was a tasteless hoax or an expertly staged publicity stunt to attract attention. I couldn’t really blame them for their skepticism, I wouldn’t have believed it either if I didn’t know it was true.

There was a secondary group of blogs which sprang up; devoted to either supporting our mission, or debunking the mounting pile of evidence. Most critics didn’t doubt the attack footage was authentic. They just claimed the killers were terrorists dressed in reptile suits. For the next few weeks, the international news coverage of the event was out of control. Thankfully ‘they’ couldn’t control the larger-than-life media circus either. It was more than I could have hoped for. We had reached a tipping point.

I pulled Dr. Hastings aside to discuss our next move. As a trusted confidant, I sought his council on many aspects of our future strategy. He couldn’t take a more public or official role in our affairs because of the possibility of backlash from the scientific community he worked in. Instead, we held brief, clandestine meetings whenever possible.

“How have they been able to produce so many unrecognized G1 offspring without setting off an epidemic of rape alarm bells? That should be our next focus.”; He suggested. “Perhaps they are drugging the water supply and committing these assaults as the unsuspecting victims lie asleep in their beds. It would make sense for them to operate very discreetly until their numbers were large enough to seize control of society.”

I agreed. Their recent spate of violent attacks was a sign that they no longer feared being discovered. It could only mean that they were very close to achieving a minimum safe population density of their breeding stock. It chewed me up inside to realize what their intentions were for my daughter but she was relatively safe until she reached puberty. I took some comfort in knowing she was too valuable to them, to harm until then. I shuddered involuntarily at the thought. “They are getting more brazen by the minute. We’ve got to escalate our assault before there are so many that they don’t care anymore.”; I said, nervously.

“First though, shouldn’t we root out the pretender?”; He asked. “A mole in our ranks could only harm us in the long run. Beatrice Adams could sabotage our plans and report all our activities to them. As a matter of fact, I’m sure she already is.”

I smiled. He’d arrived at the same independent conclusion I had. I was glad I wasn’t the only one who saw her contradictory actions as highly suspect. Paired with a deliberately hidden childhood background, it cast a dark shadow on her loyalties. She qualified for almost all of the G1 checkboxes but I initially doubted my suspicions because she didn’t present as Autistic in behavior. After Dr. Hastings explained the ‘lottery’ and variation range of genetic traits, I was more certain of her culpability.

“Could it really be possible?; I asked him in disgust. “I don’t want to believe it about her but there are so many signs pointing to a leak. I keep turning it over and over in my head. How else could ‘they’ have known where Greg was appearing that night? We didn’t release that information publicly. Only our inner circle knew his itinerary. How could anyone betray us to those ‘things’ Maybe I’m just being paranoid.”

“If you are, then so am I.”; He concluded. “I did some digging around. She was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome in her teens. It fits the pattern, Megan. She’s ‘high functioning’ but definitely on the Autism scale. When you take that and consider her hidden childhood at an orphanage, the fact that she booked the plane tickets for Greg, and her penchant for voting against the progressive will of the group, that’s pretty strong evidence. Albeit circumstantial. Short of confronting her or insisting on DNA tests for the entire staff, I don’t know how else we could definitively prove it beyond doubt. Regardless, it’s enough for me that I don’t trust her.”

I nodded. He offered great points and helped to solidify my widening distrust but I didn’t want to play my hand just yet. Once I pointed out the strategic advantage of feeding her disinformation, he was on-board for the ruse of using her; instead of a caustic confrontation that probably wouldn’t be fruitful. It definitely wouldn’t be pleasant.

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‘The rotting thing in the crawlspace thinks you are fascinating’

Sometimes it scratches on the door at the top of the stairs but it never knocks. It’s polite that way. Partially because it likes the novelty of being subtle; and also because a scratch is much more ambiguous. A knock is a clear signal. Dead things aren’t supposed to ever be direct in their communication with the living. That would defeat plausible deniability. It’s in the ‘crawlspace dead-thing’ bylaws.

I don’t want to give you a complex or anything but It’s observed you before. Nothing really serious or ‘creepy’. Just garden-variety corpse voyeurism. To be honest, that’s textbook behavior for most of the creatures you have down in your crawlspace. They all think you are fascinating.

Mmm, I guess you figured it out by now the dead thing in question is me. I have a habit of speaking of myself in third person. It’s only because I have a hard time accepting my past mortality. That’s just a manifestation of insane jealousy against the still-living I suppose.

Thank you for leaving the door unlocked. I was starting to think you’d never invite me up here to watch you sleep. Carry on. Don’t mind me. I’m going to just stand over here in the corner and watch you breathe. In and out. I’m brooding I suppose because I’m curious how I came to be buried in your crawlspace.

(An excellent narration of this story by the host of ‘Voices in the dark’)

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