Acute Paranoia


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July 12, 2006, night

I will never forget this night. This is when I came face to face with the true enormity of the Conspiracy. The events I will describe may seem bizarre, but they were as real and convincing to me as anything I have ever experienced.

I sat in my room, worrying as always about the Corporation's plans to come after me. Suddenly, I heard shots ring out in the street. Two loud booms in rapid succession, the sound of a shotgun being fired. After some moments the sound repeated itself, only louder. The shots were getting closer.

I understood at once what was happening. Someone was coming down the street, assaulting people with gunfire. The last remnants of the neighborhood were being finished off. It wouldn't be long before they reached our house.

Panicking, I ran downstairs. I had to warn my roommate. George had left earlier, but Fred was home, sitting in front of the television eating his dinner.

"Fred," I said, "we've got to get out of here. Didn't you hear those shots?"

But Fred didn't seem to hear me, preoccupied as he was with eating. I was so terrified I made a flash decision: there was no time to convince Fred of the danger. I had to flee myself. I headed out the patio door and tore across the back yard, certain that a home invasion was moments away. I clambered over the small fence that separated our yard from the one behind us, then ran up the driveway of the neighboring house and into a cul-de-sac.

It was dark. The night sky was overcast and it was hot and humid. I listened for more shots, wanting to gauge the path the shooters were taking. I didn't see anyone anywhere. At once, I sought the aid of the authorities and of my fellow man. I dialed "911" on my cell phone and went up to a random house and pounded on the front door.

The phone returned a busy signal. No one came to the door. I tried another house, but again there was no answer. I knew I couldn't linger out in the open, so I ran behind the house into the woods. There were lots of wooded areas in the neighborhood, so at least I had some cover. I thought I might try the rear of a house, to see if someone would let me in through their back door.

I went up to a house with large patio doors. Looking through the glass, I could see into a dining room. There were boxes about with items half packed, or perhaps half unpacked. It was dim inside. Around me I noticed the houses were darkened, except for an occasional outdoor light. I realized that these houses were all empty. Their inhabitants were either on vacation or already eliminated.

Of course, the Corporation knew exactly which houses were occupied and which were not. So it would be easy enough for them to wait until the remaining residents in the neighborhood were confined to isolated pockets, surrounded by empty homes. Then they could strike openly, since the final remnants would have nowhere to run. They wouldn't even see each others' demise.

I was getting more panicky. I thought I should try to get out of the neighborhood, but where to go? I ran blindly through the trees. In front of me I saw two huge, bright lights, high up over the ground. They must have brought them in to set up a cordon, to trap people like me who were trying to escape.

As I turned around and headed out into a street, I heard another shot. A blue car suddenly tore out of a driveway and, with a screech of its wheels, drove off rapidly. Someone else who had figured out what was going on and made the smart move of getting into a car. I could try to go back for my Jeep, but that risked the possibility that there were killers waiting at the house.

I started running down the road, and then saw a gray sedan slowly driving towards me. It must have been the same car I had seen a few days earlier, checking us out in the front lawn. My mind was racing with fear. I needed to seek cover again. It also occurred to me that I might be traceable through my phone. I turned the phone off and, for good measure, tossed it aside as I ran into a wooded area.

Hidden among the trees I took stock of my situation. It was hard to believe, but it was really happening. It all went back to my old friend's warning: that when people gave too much of their personal information to their corporate employers, they were handing them the means for complete control. And now I was experiencing the ultimate end of the corporate conspiracy - the complete takeover of an entire residential neightborhood.

But was that the whole picture? I was hearing shots, seeing floodlights, but also kept hearing the sounds of jet aircraft. Was something even bigger happening?

It occurred to me that this might be an event that encompassed more than just the neighborhood. A new theory formed in my mind, one that took the Conspiracy to an entirely new level. It could conceivably be the case that the right-wing Christian fundamentalists were making a move. They did control the government. They might have instigated a plan to wipe out everyone who disagreed with their beliefs. They were exterminating everyone in the country who wasn't one of them, and at the same time unleashing war on the Muslim world.

Overhead, the planes roared like missiles. I imagined nuclear warheads streaming toward Middle Eastern cities, bringing on Armageddon.

How could I safely find out what was really going on? A clever idea formed in my mind: I could break into an empty house. The conspirators would assume it was already cleared out, which would make it a safe haven. It would probably still be powered and have a television, so I could watch a news channel to confirm my theory. I could camp out for a few days if needed.

I went up to a house and peered through the glass on a rear door. I was looking into a kitchen. I could probably smash a pane, reach through, and let myself in. Surely no one was home. But I didn't have the nerve. I stepped into the house's back yard, which had a concrete patio with a basketball hoop. I was still terrified. They must be closing in on me. I didn't have much time.

All I could think to do was drop to my knees and pray. I would just kneel there and pray to Jesus, and when they found me they would think I was one of them, that I had repented and should be spared.

Please, Jesus, I don't want to die.
I promise I will never do another bad thing again.

As I knelt there praying, I felt an expansive pressure in my head. My thoughts were sublimating to a higher level. I was putting together the pieces of the Conspiracy - the Corporation in the center, which controlled the Post Office, the Insurance companies and the Mortgage industry, which controlled the Psychiatrists and the Local Police. It was like a game; if you could just figure out the game, and play it out, it would turn back on itself and annihilate. But even as the insight dawned on me I felt my mind disintegrating. Even as I put two thoughts together, I could feel something pulling them apart.

It must have been the Topamax. They had designed it to lurk in the brain and respond to just this sort of higher awareness. It was well known that epileptics possessed a form of genius. The drugs to treat them were meant to control them - to shut down their minds if they ever figured out the whole web of manipulation and deceit that was the Conspiracy.

I was delirious. I was filled at once with despair and elation. I stood up, grabbed the post of the basketball hoop, and spun myself around and around. My consciousness was spiralling upwards towards infinity. This was what it was like to come to the end of time, a tragic end brought on by the madness of the human race, but it was alright. I knew in a rush that it would cycle around again and begin anew, that the end had become the beginning, and that it had all grown out of me.

My whole being collapsed into a single brilliant point of light and one ecstatic revelation:


I awoke lying on my back in the grass, and sat up. No, wait, I thought. I'm a delusional paranoid.

And I was out in someone's back yard. I realized I had better hide somewhere, and crawled over to the side of the neighboring house. I hid against the wall, behind a bush. I could hear that there were people inside. This must be a family of believers, who were being spared. They might not even realize what was happening. Perhaps I could seek sanctuary with them. I imagined myself knocking at their door, being admitted and sheltered. They would protect me out of Christian charity.

I thought the better of it and slunk off into a more heavily wooded area. I could still hear shots ringing out. It wasn't over yet. I decided my best bet was to lay low and wait it out. I crawled on my belly deep inside some thorny undergrowth, and tried to be as still as possible.

I was certain I was out of sight of any humans who might approach, but I still feared being detected by dogs. Surely they would have brought dogs for such an operation. They probably had a checklist of everyone they had targetted. Any one who was missed would be hunted down in the cordoned off neighborhood. I listened intently for the sound of an approaching canine.

Shots continued to sound. A dog squealed in pain and then was silent. Someone pulled up in a vehicle nearby. I heard the sound of them getting out of the car, then opening the door to their house. Then blam! as they were shot. Someone had been waiting for them. Brutal.

Farther in the distance I heard the familiar shots followed by a rapid barrage of further shots. The exterminators were encountering resistance. A rare case of a household that was armed, perhaps even ready for a final showdown. Of course, they hardly stood a chance against professional killers. The staccato sounds of multiple weapons firing eventually gave way to silence. The noble last stand had come to a finish.

The night air was humid and oppressive, the sky still overcast. Periodically I heard the sound of a jet airplane as it took off. The smart people were leaving the city as the Corporation completed its merciless takeover.

I hoped it might rain. If it rained, I would have cover in which to escape the neighborhood, so long as it was a heavy rain. I continued to listen for anyone approaching. At one point I heard some rustling in the bushes and thought the end was upon me. But it must have been a small animal of some kind. I was worried that it's movement would attract dogs from one of the scouting parties.

What came next was the most horrible thing I have ever witnessed. A whirring, buzzing sound filled my head. I realized what it was - the sound of the murderers cleaning up the evidence. They were butchering the bodies, using bone saws and who knows what else to cut them into easily transported chunks.

The sound was sickening. It was loud, much too loud considering how far I was from the nearest house. That was when I understood what they were doing to me. The sound was being transmitted to me through my recently acquired dental implant. The operatives were networked to the Corporation's headquarters, and the sounds in the houses were being relayed to me via satellite.

Which meant that they knew exactly where I was. They were watching me, a blip on a screen somewhere in a control room. So why weren't they coming for me? They were obviously playing a cruel joke. They were demonstrating to me their awesome power and utter depravity, knowing that I was completely helpless. So I lay there, curled under the bush, listening to the horrifying sounds of buzzing saws and occassional screams and gunshots, not knowing if I would live through the night.

July 13, 2006, morning

Dawn finally came. In the new day's light I could see, through the foliage, that I was near a dirt driveway. I could hear the sounds of birds but nothing else. I crawled out from my hiding place, stood up, and dusted myself off. I was quite dirty. I followed the driveway out to the road and started walking. I wasn't actually sure where I was in the neighborhood, but I figured I could find my way to the house where I lived. I wondered what I would find there.

I was on the lookout for anything suspicious, but all was quiet and still. I came to an intersection and recognized the way home, following a major road. Eventually I crossed paths with a middle-aged woman who was out for a morning run. Apparently not everyone had been eliminated the night before.

I greeted her in a conventional manner. I wanted to gather information from her, so I asked her how her night had been. She told me it had been fine, but that there sure were a lot of people setting off fireworks. The poor deluded soul.

To explain my disheveled appearance, I told the woman I had apparently had a seizure and been disoriented. She said something sympathetic and we parted ways.

I walked back to the house. It looked perfectly normal. Nervously I fished for my key and unlocked the front door, then took a deep breath and walked in. Nothing happened.

Fred was in the kitchen making breakfast. He barely registered my appearance. I went up to my room to shower and change clothes. It was late in the morning. I couldn't even imagine going to work.

I went back downstairs and told Fred I had freaked out and run into the woods the night before. He didn't seem to be aware that I had been gone. I told him I had lost my cell phone and asked if he would help me find it.

So we went out and drove in his car to where I thought I had been when I saw the gray car, spooked, tossed my cell phone, and ran. As we drove down the road I couldn't help but notice how quiet and still the neighborhood was. How many of those houses were completely empty? We drove down the road which I believed to be the one the gray car was on. It looked so much different at day. I got out of the car and wandered around, looking in the grass and in every spot of bushes I could see. No luck.

I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't find the phone, and would have to get a new one.

July 13, 2006, day

Buying a new phone became my next goal for the day. I went to a shopping mall where I had seen mobile phone kiosks and walked up to the nearest one. I didn't even think about price or features, I just picked one and bought it. I paid way too much.

As I drove down the residential roads in our area, I noticed how quiet and still everything was. Many parking areas were empty of cars. Hardly anyone was outside. At one condominium complex I saw an older man sitting out on his balcony, all alone. Did he even realize how many of his neighbors had been taken out by the Conspiracy? It was so very sad.

I began to form an idea of how I might blow the Conspiracy's cover. If only I could explain the situation to the right people. To the government or the media. When the public found out about this horror, the Corporation, and all its conspiratorial allies, would have to back off. They might not be brought to justice, but they would be exposed. The identities of the people who had been exterminated would be revealed, and the tragedy would receive national prominence. I imagined people would leave memorials of flowers and gifts on the doorsteps of the victims' empty homes. And I would be a hero.

I arrived at my home later in the afternoon. The neighbor behind us pulled in at about the same time. I could see him come up his driveway, the same driveway I had run down at the beginning of my escapade the night before. He got out of the car and went through his front door. And then I heard the fatal shot. My heart jumped. Fred was there but he didn't seem to notice. It occurred to me he might be hard of hearing, since he hadn't responded to my warning the night before. I was afraid to say anything. After all, the house was bugged.

Later, I saw a school bus drive by. Its windows were tinted black, so you could not see inside. I realized that it must be carrying the operatives from the night before. It was how they shuttled to and from the neighborhoods during the day, so no one would suspect anything. They probably had the body parts of the people they had killed, wrapped up in plastic, piled up in the back. They were taking them somewhere for disposal.

Then I got a call on my new phone. No one I knew even had the number. I answered, and heard a muffled voice say something indistinct.

"Who is this?" I said into the phone. They hung up.

So they had found out my new phone already. Easy enough for them to do. The voice I had heard was probably some thug tasked with following me. But if I gave up the phone, I would lose a necessary tool. I would have to accept the risk.

My apprehension grew as I saw more school buses, travelling in different directions. Bodies leaving and killers arriving, most likely. It would not be safe to spend the night here. It was game night at the house, and Fred, George and I would be joined by our friend Ian for a roleplaying game. It would not be safe for any of us.

When Ian arrived, George and I went to greet him in the parking lot. I was very nervous, getting to the point of panic. I wanted to somehow cancel our game night, but couldn't think of a way to convince the other guys. I stammered something about how I thought there was going to be a gang war tonight, and we should all leave. Ian and George looked at me doubtfully. When I repeated my assertion, Ian said that he wasn't going to leave because of gangsters, and then he and George went inside.

I followed them upstairs to George's room. George wanted to show Ian something on the computer. I wanted to warn them of the danger, based on what I had witnessed the night before, but I was afraid to speak out loud because the house was bugged. I paced about the room in a state of agitation. My throat was choked up with fear. I told my friends I needed to tell them something but I was afraid to speak out loud.

Ian pointed at the computer, and George went over to it and opened a new text file. I typed in:

house is bugged

last night I heard killing

Ian typed in reply:

Someone was killed? Who?

don't know

Should we call police?


This wasn't working. I knew the police would be no help. They were already controlled by the Corporation, as evidenced by the officer who had followed me on my drive home that day, possibly the one my boss knew. It was just too much to explain. I decided I would make my point by leaving.

I went to my room and hastily packed a suitcase. I just grabbed what clothes would fit in it without any thought, some toiletries from the bathroom, and then a few of my favorite books. Who knew if I would ever see this house, or anything in it, ever again?

By this point I was in a state of utter panic. I threw the suitcase in the Jeep, got in, and drove off, leaving a worried Ian and George in the driveway. I drove out of the neighborhood, but I didn't know where I was going. My mind was torn between finding a hotel, and driving the five hours north to where my parents lived. A hotel made sense, but I wasn't entirely sure where the nearest one was. I drove towards what seemed like the right place.

I was so distraught I could barely navigate. I went down one major road, then down another, but didn't see a hotel. It was still early in the evening and there was traffic to contend with. I had trouble staying focused, with the thoughts racing through my head about the Conspiracy and how I was going to face it. My driving was erratic, and as my frustration grew, became dangerous.

I pulled over to the side of the road and collected myself. I was aware that I was in an extreme mental state and that I should not be behind the wheel. I could barely keep together a coherent train of thought. I was completely shaken by overwhelming anxiety.

I called George on my new phone, and told him I was panicking and needed someone to give me a ride. I had enough of my bearings to know how to get to a certain shopping mall, and told George to meet me in the parking lot there, in front of a bookstore. Then I carefully drove there myself. Just having a plan calmed me down a little bit.

When I arrived, George and Ian were already there. They were in the parking lot in front of the store, talking to a police officer. How had the police tracked us already? Slowly, I drove up to them and parked in a nearby empty spot, then sat for some moments, processing.

Was this it? Was I finally cornered? The policeman would take me away, I would be locked up somewhere, and there would be no hope to stop the Conspiracy. For the rest of my days I would only have my books to console me, my secret trove of knowledge which had led me to the terrible truth. But I would be discredited; no one would believe what I had to say.

Still, I couldn't be sure what was going on. Resigned, I took a deep breath, exited the Jeep, and walked slowly over to where my friends were talking with the police officer.

"Is this your friend?" the cop was asking Ian.

Apparently, Ian had been so agitated himself that he had attracted the officer's attention. He must have told the officer there was something wrong with me, because the officer wanted to know if he should get help. I told them to just take me home, that I would be okay. We had to get out of that situation. The cop was acting helpful, but if he found out what I knew, he would be certain to detain me, and that would be the end of it.

"Are you sure everything is okay?" the cop asked. He was talking to Ian.

Ian reassured the policeman and we were allowed to leave. I moved the suitcase to Ian's car, and we went back to where I lived. When we arrived, Fred was there.

I was still determined not to spend the night in that house.


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