Many years ago, before untamed, fiery youth gave way to sobering maturity, there was a time in my life I lived it in the most truly wild and adventurous manner. And while in intention it may have been no more than the usual rebellion as a rite of passage that human beings celebrate as an extended coming of age ceremony to fully experience the seemingly limitless possibilities of youth, it led, by numerous unplannable coincidences of being in the right places at the right time, to a respectable majority of my acquired wealth of knowledge of other worlds and how they interact with our own. At the time it was no more than a mere collection of anecdotes, strange occurances, taking place here and there, but through the gift of hindsight I can now safely say that they were puzzle pieces that upon increasing in number and through maturing reflection formed the bigger picture that I now possess.
One such anecdote made its permanent mark on my memory as it occured in the Spring of 2004. I was at the time constantly searching the internet for like-minded souls and by one coincidence or other at the time I was finding a girl equally interested in the deep of the occult as I was. We were soon conversing in subjects far beyond the conventions of human perception, and as worldly matters regularly follow the arcane, she was soon inviting me to her residence in the United States of America. Oh, to see those native lands of those immortal scholars of the occult, the soils that the likes of H.P. Lovecraft or Richard E. Byrd walked on, among these towers of steel and concrete and the endless stretches of primal land untouched by civilised humankind in between, it surely was an experience to behold all by itself.
The true relevations of the journey however came not from interaction with the ancient and primal, but with the very present and very modern. A shopping mall. Place of all places for the beginning of a spiritual experience. Buying alcohol. Occasion of all occasions. Being generally younger looking than I am, buying alcohol at a generic grocery store attached to a generic mall I was asked for documentation on my age, not a major surprise since I was 22 years old at the time, not far from the age Americans consider it prudent to allow the purchase of alcohol. I searched my pockets for my ID card and quickly displayed it properly upon locating it, proving that I was indeed 22 years of age. This is where it began causing problems, however. Being a visitor, from Germany, of course my ID card was German. Bundesrepublik Deutschland. The person I was displaying it to, for surely some valid reason, had however never seen such a document from my nation of origin. A discussion ensued on whether it is a valid, legal document. Having never seen an ID card from Germany, the person in charge questioned its validity. I disagreed. Okay, I made a scene. I am quite proud of my heritage, whatever it may stand for to whoever might comtemplate what it stands for, I am, and questioning the validity of official identification of my official nation of origin, it infuriated me, I made a scene.
Well, one thing led to another in one of those classic "this isn't going well" scenarios that all of us have been made all too familiar with at one point or another in their lives. Officers of the law had been called in to determine that clearly I was out of my mind, and being true to the purpose they were called for, that is exactly what they did. This man from a far away land, how can he create such conflict over something he is so clearly in the wrong about? Except of course I was not and the insinuation that something was clearly wrong about something clearly right was what created the conflict. To make a long story short, it was decided that my spending a night at a mental institution was the best way to go for all parties involved. It would not really solve anything, but everyone would have the peace and quiet they so obviously would have preferred over my insisting that the age on my German ID card entitles me to legally purchase some beers and a bottle of wine. It's how it goes, I must suppose.
Not too pleased myself but well aware of my lack of any other choice than to go along, I accompanied my surely well-meaning captors to a location that I entered blindly with the rage over the incident still burning inside me, but that would soon open my eyes to many new layers of reality. After the obligatory talk to someone clueless who studied medicine somewhere for some purpose that was impossible to discern from the conversation, I was put with other "patients". An eclectic collection of everything from obvious vegetables to very regular-seeming people that seemed as confused as I was as to why they had to stay at that place. Determining where everyone was on that aforementioned spectrum did lead to some very fruitless conversations, but something seemed to be guiding me to where destiny needed me to go, steering me clear quickly of the useless towards where my journey was meant to head.
I'm a smoker. I had no cigarettes left, and I saw an old man smoking, so I sat down next to him and asked him if he could loan me - a common German expression in that context when you mean "give for free" - a cigarette. He did, and we started talking about various subjects. Nothing too deep at first, it felt more like he was assessing whether I was a man who could be trusted. Then he said to me that he had some great stories about his past and wanted to share one of them with me. I listened.
He asked me if I had seen that movie. There are plenty of movies, I told him that, he's got to be more specific. That movie. That one with Kurt Russell. They are in Antarctica and something is there, something not from our world, and it's killing all of them. "Ahh, that one", I said to him.The Thing. From 1982. By John Carpenter. Of course I know, that's a classic. He asked me if I know the origin of the story and knowing now what he was referring to I told him that of course I know, there's an earlier movie from the 1950s, and that earlier movie was based on a book from the 1930s, I know the story. It was a funny moment when I told him, because he looked at me like I was stupid or had gone insane or something along those lines. He just told me that yes, those exist, those are fictional stories, and they did have some influence on that 1982 John Carpenter movie, but the true source material for that movie was actually a true story.
"I beg your pardon." I think something like that, that's what my response was. I was after all aware at what kind of institution I was being kept. Old guy wants to tell me a fantasy story, sure. He told me that clearly I can hear his accent, he was quite insistent, but I wasn't quite as fluent in English as I am now, so he had to explain to me that obviously he had a British accent that everybody should instantly be able to identify. Okay, so now I knew that, but what was that supposed to tell me? "You see", he said, "my father, he was one of the scientists. He was on one of those British expeditions, he was there, in Antarctica. I was only a child, but he was there, he was quite a scientist and we were all very proud of him, my mother, the whole family. But he came back, he was a changed man, he was strange, kept to himself, said little, had no warmth as a father or husband left in him and isolated himself and eventually he went away. I never knew why. I never knew what was behind it and neither did my mother. He just went away. Later however I decided to do some research on him, on what happened to him, why he left, where he went. And I found out he went to America. I had to do a lot of digging, a lot of digging I tell you, to retrace his steps. But I found out he made a friend here, a Hollywood kind of friend, a writer, someone who does those scripts for those movies."
His voice noticeably went sadder as he spoke. "I never found my father. I never got to speak to him again. But I found that writer friend of his, and I got to talk to him. He had written much of the script for that film, and he told me he got it from my father. My father told him the whole story, everything that happened on that Antarctic expedition, and he made it into the script of that film. And it happened almost exactly like it is shown in the film, at least that's what my father's friend said my father told him, and only minor changes were made to make the film link up to that one you mentioned from the fifties, and that book you mentioned. Almost everything else in the film, it's true, it's what happened. Except one thing."
"What thing?" I asked. He stared at me, with those deep eyes I only now noticed when he used them to catch me in their imaginary grip. "One thing..." he said. "The ending." He paused, played with his sparse belongings on the table we were sitting at, cigarettes, lighter, notebook, as if he was attempting to collect his thoughts by collecting small things on the table. "It's not how it happened, that ending", he said. "There's a kind of happy ending in the film. Yes, everybody dies, but so does the thing. That's not what happened in real life. My father came home, so did others, not because they were lucky, but because unlike the film they let the thing escape." He took a breath and repeated in a louder voice: "They let the thing escape."
"And it's still out there. It can be whatever it wants. And it only uses that ability to its own advantage. All it does it's only to its own advantage. So it's politicians. Bankers. Rich people. Famous people. Whatever gets the advantage, whatever puts it ahead. You see them acting strange, it's that thing. It's that thing my father found, that broke his mind, that made him come home never being the same he ever was. It's all that thing."
I couldn't believe him, and I asked him why he didn't tell anyone the story, why he didn't get it published, why he didn't try to get the word out about it, why he didn't try to warn people. But he assured me that he did. And that that was why he was here. He tried so many times, in so many ways, he delivered the evidence, he showed the documents, the details of his father's career, the clues of what he did after moving to the United States, the testimony from the writer, the evidence for how the behaviour of important people seemed to change randomly since his father's expedition, but all he was told ever since was that this was evidence of his paranoid schizophrenia and that he had to be kept safe from himself. That he clearly could not tell fantasy from reality and he had to be kept safe from himself as to not do harm to himself. Suffice to say there was no insanity in his voice, these were not the ramblings of a maniac, he was quite lucid and focused throughout the entire story. But I understand how some people would feel that a story like that would not be suitable for the ears of the general public. It might cause a panic or some other sort of confusion, I don't agree but I understand. It is how it is.
I vowed to keep the story in mind since the day I heard it so I could one day tell others about it. I never heard more of it since that night I spent at that institution was thankfully all the time I had to spend at that dreadful place. Thanks to the graceful skills of negotiation of my hosts it was decided that I would be held only for that one night and released the next day without repercussions.