Hunting the monster has not been a easy task. As I write this I am closing in, but still it remains exclusive.
Long ago I started this hunt by looking out my window. Not because I thought I would see it directly. But maybe I could spot some clues. I started to pay attention to as many things as I could. Be alert and ready everywhere. The most subtle shift in people’s moods and behavior. Whatever triggered the sensation, like being slowly electrocuted, a malevolent invisible energy influencing people around me.
As the months passed I started to pick up more things that where a part of the downfall. I would sometimes think that it was it. There were others out there doing it too. People I could discuss it with. How is this hanging together. What is at the center of all this? It was a hopeless case of dead ends.
I sometimes wonder if it was just a sensation of the entire unity. That the monster was just a insanely complex mechanism of feedback loops running freely and feeding of each other. That it all had become so corrupt, automated and complicated it was in a sense alive and had a will and “soul” of its own. Maybe we just had gradually lost control of it and were being controlled. I considered the thought as more than just a metaphor.
In conversations with a good friend, without doubt one of the smartest people I know, I suggested ideas even more disturbing. What if it was the end time? That this she too described as a “mass psychosis” was some supernatural force attacking us? She did not want to talk about it…I understand why. But sometime during 2016, I really started to consider it seriously. Maybe what I sense is just pure evil…Why not, I certainly believe in evil.
And that led me back to paths I have already been on the days after it. Also disturbing, they all are. What if it is just a collection or sum of my personal demons after all? That the thing out there is in fact my shadow? The dream certainly had some aspect of that. At least it gave me some seriously bouts of guilt.
I found an empty notebook from my school days in the 80s. I brought it to my bedroom and started to write down words on paper. First the symptoms we have now. I drew lines and arrows between them. Traced the ideas and patterns backwards in time. Through intellectual movements, the 60s, the world wars and the ideologies that drove them. I passed 1900. And ended up with three important words that have been in there all the time. Atheism, Marxism and materialism. The last word caught my attention the most, although all three are perhaps expressions of the same thing.
What caused materialism? The idea that everything is just made up of things? A idea that no one has ever proven, but never the less taken shortcuts around proving because they believe it must be so, or want it to be… Closing in…there is s huge vortex drawn in the book. That is my Monster. Before closing the book I drew a arrow pointing at it and wrote “Demiurge?”
For the past five years, I have thrown aside such ideas in favor of a more rational approach. I want it to be impeccable and beyond criticism, like science or an electronic gadget. Finite, discrete, powerful. But these explanations elude me. Maybe it is time to bring the irrational back in…with its most terrifying possible implications.
I first detected anomalies when I began school for the first time. My earliest memories were only the warm air above the desks, the echoes of children singing, playing ball games and running between the buildings.
But after a month at school, I sensed that somewhere far in the background there was slight dissonance. Small traces of some disturbing presence. It could also be described as a feeling of foreboding, that something bad was going on somewhere out of sight. I could not notice anything with my rational eyes that seemed unusual, except the tasteless architecture perhaps. And some strange scent derived the combination of everything that went into a school. This smell was present in most of the buildings that had been built by the state, even though I did not know what a state was back then.
Inside the classroom I did the same thing more and more every day. I would daydream myself out of the room, back to my freedom or further into the unknown out there. Or places that did not exist outside my mind at all. That way I escaped the amplifying feeling of dread. Emerging out of some other place where time and space seemed irrelevant.
Autumn came abruptly. Giant grey clouds built up above it all as the trees became uncovered. During the days giant flocks of bird gathered there before they took of in perfect sync. Leaving for the winter, they seemed eager to get away as well. I used to get there in the morning before the others. I was there alone watching it in some ghostly blue and grey light. Like it was a dream of some sort. Almost like some glasslike substance filled the air. The place felt like it was sick.
I started to withdraw from the others in a cyclical manner. So I could get away from them. After all they showed no signs of noticing any of this. That made me different from them, or perhaps the other way around. Feeling I was being rejected myself, others have frequently accused me of rejecting others. And the last years I have come to realize that their version of that probably is more true than mine.
Inside the classroom things were getting unbearable. I often felt sick through my entire body. The room would get that dreamlike atmosphere and I would do the usual escape into my own mind or focus on everything in the room other than what I was supposed to. The texture of the paper in my book, the desk, the blackboard and the floor.
And then I started to see it. Not with my eyes, but some other strange sense. There was a abhorrent kind of current running through it all. Black and dangerous. Like a relentless but steady flow of billions and billions of tiny ants. Corroding and dissolving everything from inside. Trying to make their way through and pour into the world that was possible to perceive with the five senses.
She appeared out of nowhere one day. I hated her from the first second. There was something wrong with her. She had the current running through her body. She gave the impression of not belonging here at all. She was a interference. A animated body with nothing inside. No soul. Some kind of preprogrammed, robotic being posing as a human.
My friends and the others did not like her either. She was a woman in her early 50s, but it was hard to tell exactly back then since even people who were twenty seemed very old. She had an angry unpleasant face, chubby and with black messy hair reaching down to her shoulder. We were told she was a substitute for one of the usual teachers, not in my class. Except she was there as a extra for one hour once. As if she were there for another purpose entirely…
Her presence was bizarre and in some undefinable way unreasonable. One day me and two others where standing by the main entrance to the oldest part of the building. She came down the stairs from that led to the right wing of the building where the offices were. She yelled at some kids for standing in her way in her rasping metallic voice. She walked past us in her strange gait which reminded me of some troll walking. She passed by us with a white shirt hanging outside of her pants. She went up the stairs that led to the left wing of the building — separated from the right wing by a wide margin and solid walls — and disappeared as quickly as she had first appeared into the door to the oldest section of the school.
My friends would whisper about how they thought she was a witch and other scary beings from folklore and fairytales. We looked at each other. Some remarks about her ugliness. Then I looked up and she caught my eyes, walking down the stairs on the right wing of the building. My friends went quiet. We looked at each other with terrified question marks in our eyes.
We never saw her again after that. I made up some excuse of a rational explanation. She jumped through a window. Or we were mistaken. But the two sections of the school are connected in only place: right where we were standing the whole time. There was not enough time for her to have crept past us. Something else, something irrational, had occurred.
The hatred within
A year later my breathing got shallow and I started to have small dots dancing before my eyes and ants in my legs. I said I needed to go the bathroom and left the room. But instead I went down to the hall and slipped unnoticed out the main door. The black electric current faded as I got the first breaths of fresh air.
I went to the stairs I used to sit on a lot of the time. They were in front of a door on the oldest section. A door that was not in normal use anymore. But I knew it lead into a spiral stair that went all the way up to the classroom at the top. We were not allowed to walk it. We only did it once in a fire drill, not sure if it was before or after this, but I had seen it.
Instead of using my few stolen minutes siting on the stairs I stopped and looked at the hole in the wall to the left of it. I had seen it many times before and sometimes wondered why it was there. It was so big a grown man could put his hand inside it. Of course no one cared about why it was there. The place was few years away from closing because it was a health hazard. I looked around, I was alone and out of sight from all windows. I walked towards it and looked inside. A unpleasant smell of old wood and something else. It looked like the end point of some pipe system for cables. That was probably why it was open. They must have removed some older wires and did not care to close it. I did not want to stick my hand inside it. There where frequently insects crawling inside the classrooms in this section, real ones. They had to come from somewhere. I did not see any though. I took a step back and looked around.
No one was there. An idea took form in my mind. I felt the lovely rage within me, the forbidden one. A subtle smile lit up on my face. I kind of saw it in a mirror in my head. The place was in dire need of a new paint job. I could put something in there and use a few matches. The old building would be doomed and fully ablaze before anyone could stop it. This might burn out the venom and the source of the black energy that cursed me whenever I was in the building.
I could do it in the late evening. Ride my bike just before darkness, through the woods and home again. I would not dare to do that under normal circumstances, but it would be worth the trip. No one would believe I could do such a thing, my body had rushes of excitement. If that happened I would be free for a significant time.
And it occurred to me for the first time. And I wish now I had taken better care of that notion in years to come. That this had no real power over me if I wanted. Because I could do it, who would stop me? Absolutely no one…
But there were rules and codes. Most people had agreed upon them, me too, and it was not fair to cheat that way. Even though they where annoying because the people who reminded everyone else of us about these rules seemed to be those who where willing to take the most and rudest shortcuts around them. I had taken notice of that.
I went back inside. The strange current was gone, for now…
Since starting in this prison I had noticed a lot of other things besides the strange phenomenon I could feel inside it and some of its servants. Things I could put my finger on. When I did that I felt some freedom or sense of being.
Our teacher was a major problem. I had become more and more aware that I did not like the many things she told us. They seem to defy something deep within me and the world as far as I could know it back then.
She would watch us from the desk in the front of the room. The clock above her would slow down until it barely moved forward. Every time I felt she had her eyes on me I would feel a jolt of the current. I tried to escape her attention the best I could. It had become a lot harder as the years passed. Did she know? That I was feeling that something was off. Of course she did and that was probably the worst crime of them all. Although I never felt she was one of them as such, she obviously on some level thought it was very bad to observe such things.
She was watching everyone and where constantly interfering with what we did outside the classroom. Who spent time with who and what groups formed. If she did not approve of it, she would do projects to correct it and force us to do it another way. Most often with ideas that would make us all stay together in activities. Match and replace, she seemed to enjoy it a lot, or maybe just felt it was wanted and expected of her.
There were frequent conflicts. I hated the way she solved them. We were supposed to share the blame equally and say sorry. No matter whose fault it might have been. It felt very unjust to me. I got into trouble when I had to, avoided it mostly if not. When I had been the person to blame it felt wrong too. This “evening out” seemed to benefit the worst people more than anyone else. No matter what kind of cruel behavior, they would never get much more than half the blame and punishment anyways. In other words…no punishment at all. It all seemed set up for them, not the rest of us.
We would have project days where we would learn about some other country where they where worse of than lucky us. I did not mind learning about it. It was interesting enough in itself. I liked to read about it on my own. But I hated how she would almost talk down on us. We seemed to somehow be inferior to those people in Nepal, Guatemala and various places in Africa, despite the obvious evidence of the contrary.
Africa…The way she said that word. With a kind of longing sigh. Africa…she almost whispered it in a way. Her eyes would get a dreamy glance and she would give the impression of hovering above the floor as her mind went to, well, probably Africa. Or perhaps some fantasy version of it in her head. She had never been there as far as I knew.
It was about how much more connected to something else they where it seemed. Like nature. I had absolutely no interest in nature beyond the atmospheres and sensory impressions it gave me where I was. It’s laws and functions and living tightly together with it seemed odd. She brought a soap made of cow shit as proof. I did not want to touch it. And the other strange smelling objects did not impress me much more. It all stank, not just literary, but on a deeper level.
Even more I hated her praise of this UN thing. It made me suspicious. It was some kind of police that could interfere with and put itself above nations to make peace. I found war much more interesting. I played war games with people, on computers, had soldiers and tanks made of plastic, books about weaponry. And I loved airplanes above all. In particular those interior to Africa supersonic ones with weapons on them. War was one of the things that filled most of my spare time. Not just me, but most others too. I was not special in that way compared to others. And it was obviously very bad, but I did not care.
But I had very little thoughts about race anyways. We had two Asians on our school, and one student from Indonesia in my class. All adopted here. And they were not seen as negative by me or others. The guy in my class was one of us, and even one of those I hung out with outside school. I also thought a few lucky escapees from those places coming here was alright and that we should take care of those who did. We never got the impression that we would be flooded with them. No one told us anything about that. However if anyone had I’m sure I would have reacted earlier.
I never connected any of this to the monstrous force, strange mechanical people and dark currents surging through everyday objects and suffocating me, as if I were disrupted by a fear for which I had no words.