Acute Paranoia


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July 13, 2006, night

Though I was too agitated to drive myself, I might be able to convince the others of the danger and the need to escape. But my appeals seemed to be falling on deaf ears. George, apparently fed up with me, went up to his room.

So I kept berating Fred, and somehow I convinced him to leave with me. I badgered him incessantly, pleading with him to drive me up to where my parents lived. Amazingly, he relented. Maybe he sensed that my state of mind was so extreme that it would be best to humor me. Maybe he was concerned for my mental health and thought I should be in my parents' care. Whatever the reason, soon enough we were on the road.

As Fred drove, I called my parents using my new cell phone. I told them that I was on my way up to visit them because I had uncovered a murder plot. I needed to see them as soon as possible. They sounded concerned and said they would be waiting for me.

It was early in the evening and still daytime, but I could see that a storm was brewing. Dark, heavy clouds filled the sky, and the light was dim. After an hour or so of travel, Fred pulled over into a service station. He needed gas and wanted to check the oil and tire pressure. As he took his time on the car maintenance, I pushed him to hurry so we could get travelling again. I was nervous that we had limited time before the Corporation caught up to us.

By now the stormy weather was picking up. Lightning forked through roiling, gray clouds, and thunder rumbled ominously. I thought that the Corporation might have weather satellites at their disposal, ones that could actually control the weather and create this sort of storm. They knew what I was doing - they could listen in on my phone calls, and track me through my dental implant. Now they were trying to stop me from uncovering their plot.

When the rain came it was a furious downpour. Visibility was cut almost to nothing, and Fred was forced to drive slowly. As we travelled, we sometimes passed cars that were pulled over or had run off the road. Many of them looked a lot like Fred's car - perhaps the police were trying to intercept us and were stopping every vehicle that met the description. I wondered what had happened to the unfortunate drivers.

The downpour continued, relentless. We passed a truck stop that was visible from the highway. The parking lot was filled with trucks, many with their headlights on. It looked like they were gathering, waiting for something. Could it be us? I knew from Pete's experiences that the truckers were connected to the Corporation.

My suspicions were confirmed not much later, when the large tractor-trailer rigs started rushing past us. We were still going slow in the right lane as they recklessly passed us on the left. All it would take was an "accidental" sideswipe and we would be knocked aside, out of the Conspiracy's way.

I prayed for us to survive the ferocious storm unleashed by the Corporation's weather satellites, and the murderous assault of their co-conspirator truck drivers, as Fred bravely and steadily drove on. We were slowly getting closer to our destination, and I imagined what I might do when we arrived. I would need to contact important authorities - the FBI would be a good start. They could investigate the criminal activities coming out of the office where I worked.

And for really blowing the lid off of the Conspiracy, I knew exactly whom I would contact. It would be Anderson Cooper, at CNN - the hero of Katrina. Once he broke the story, his status and credibility would insure that the Corporation had to back down. That would be when the public would become aware of all the innocent families that had been wiped out. The tragedy would be exposed and the nation would mourn.

This was what was at stake as we heroically made our way through the violent weather. Brilliant flashes of lightning and resounding thunderclaps testified to the Corporation's awesome powers of weather control. They were bringing it all out, trying to stop us in our quest to reveal the truth.

At last we arrived at the city where my parents lived. We had passed through the storm but it was still raining. I directed Fred to my mother's house, calling ahead to let her know we were arriving. It was late at night, close to midnight. My mother greeted us at the door in her bathrobe and my father arrived from his apartment shortly afterwards. They were both very worried.

I sat down on the couch in the living room with my father opposite me on one of the chairs. I explained to him that I had uncovered a terrible secret at my workplace - that they had found a way to legally commit murder. It hinged on the ability to track when people were absent from their homes by using mail hold information, then planting killers in their houses in the guise of postal inspectors. If there was ever a question raised, they could always claim the inspectors had to act in self-defense.

My father shook his head in disbelief. "No, that's not possible," he said. I could see how it sounded outlandish. But he hadn't seen all the clues that had led me to the inevitable conclusion.

Both of my parents had to work the next day, but planned to take the afternoon off so we could see what could be done about my issues. My mother had two guest bedrooms, so Fred and I each took one. Poor Fred didn't have any change of clothes or toiletries - he hadn't packed anything before I dragged him out of our house and took him on this little adventure. But we were both tired after a long day and had no trouble getting to sleep.

July 14, 2006, day

The next morning I spent making frantic phone calls while my mother was at work and Fred lurked about, drinking coffee.

I found a phone book and looked up the number for the FBI. They would be the first people to contact. Of course I got an annoying phone menu. Eventually I found a way to contact an office directly, but it took me to voicemail. I left a message requesting a call back at my number, about an important matter. I put as much urgency into my voice as I could.

I tried to find a number for CNN. Once the Conspiracy was exposed in the media, they wouldn't be able to cover up their activities. I was still entertaining fantasies of Anderson Cooper breaking the story, and of the massive public outcry as the enormity of the Conspiracy's crimes became apparent. But I couldn't find a number to call. My mother didn't have a personal computer, so I had no way to search on the Internet.

I also wanted to get numbers of households in my neighborhood, to call and find out if anyone was left living there. But those weren't in the phone book I had, from the city where my family lived. So I called my father at work, and asked him if he could find me those numbers, through Internet searches. My father was hesitant, but I cajoled him. I insisted it was very important. He must have been humoring me, worried about my state of mind, when he agreed. I gave him the street address and he said he would call back in a bit.

At that moment Fred walked in, coffee in hand. He had a habit of rambling on about various subjects, seemingly oblivious to whether or not you were listening. This time he was talking about the Mormons.

"You know," he said, "they have the most comprehensive geneological database in the world. They've put a lot of resources into building it up over the years."

I don't know if he realized exactly what I was up to on the phone, but in a flash I saw the connection. The Operator's headquarters was in Utah, and their contact person for the Corporation's contract was a Mormon. So the Conspiracy had access to that geneology data. They could use it to identify all living relatives of a target, and thus take out an entire family in one operation. My heartbeat quickened as I realized I had discovered one more wrinkle in the convoluted plot. I could even see how it folded neatly with the use of vacation mail holds - extended families often took vacation trips together, in which case they would all be returning home at roughly the same time. That was the window of opportunity for the Conspiracy to act - anyone who might report a targetted family missing would also be taken out in the same timeframe.

I also saw the truly awful aspect of this discovery - my connection to the Conspiracy had exposed my whole family to danger. The Corporation wouldn't go after me without going after my parents, my roommates - everyone close to me. About this time I noticed a school bus drive by, visible through the window in the kitchen. Its own windows were tinted black. They were already scouting my mother's house.

I fretted over this new development as Fred continued to ramble, mentioning that he needed to pick up some things at the store, since he had arrived so unprepared. In time, my father called from his office. He had a short list of street addresses and phone numbers for me, which matched the information from where I lived. My neighbors.

I gratefully thanked him and proceeded to make more phone calls. The first number was answered by what sounded like an old-fashioned answering machine. The message informed me that the occupants were unavailable - I wondered if they ever would be. I declined to leave a message. At the next number there was no answer. At the third, a woman picked up the phone.


"Hi, I'm one of your neighbors. I was calling because I'm concerned about what is going on in the neighborhood."


"In our neighborhood - there's something going on."

"I'm not sure what you mean."

"Haven't you noticed how quiet things are? Doesn't it seem unusual?"


"What about that house on the corner? There used to be kids playing in the yard all the time. Now they're gone."

"Well, I have noticed that I haven't seen those kids in a while."

"I think something's going on."

"It could be something isn't right..."

"Yes, can you please keep an eye out? Just look out for anything that isn't right."


I hung up. I wasn't sure what I had accomplished. Outside, I saw another school bus with tinted windows drive by. Or was it the same one, circling the block? I was getting nervous.

I didn't have any luck with any of the other numbers on the list, and I never received a call back from the FBI. My mother came home and we started making plans to go out to a store to get Fred the things he needed. We just had to wait for my sister to join us.

I saw the bus drive by again, and began to feel panic. I was certain the Corporation's agents were on that bus. If we left for the store, the house would be empty for long enough for them to infiltrate. Then they would be waiting for us on our return.

But when my sister arrived, I didn't know what to say. How could I express my concern in any way that sounded credible? Who would believe me if I told them there was a bus load of murderous corporate mercenaries circling the house, preparing to move in as soon we were gone?

So I went with everyone to one of those big box stores, where we bought Fred a change of clothes, and picked up some groceries for dinner. On the way back home, I was filled with dread. As we exited the car and approached the house, the terror in me grew. This could be it - our last moments on Earth would occur as we crossed the threshold. I felt an instinct to hang back, let the others go in first.

And I felt deep shame. I knew how cowardly I was being. I had already made Fred enter the crawlspace and the attic in front of me, back at our other house. And I had abandoned him to his fate the night before when I heard the gunshots ringing. The right thing to do was to put myself in front of the others. This whole nightmare was my own doing. I maneuvered to the position right behind my mother, my apprehension rising as she turned the key in the lock. This was it - the moment of truth. She opened the door and I entered the house as quickly as I could.

Nothing happened. The others followed and took the groceries into the kitchen. But of course, we were not out of danger. My mother's house had an attic, and they could easily be hiding there, waiting to do their dirty business silently in the night. I wanted to go up and check the attic, but again I didn't know how to bring up the idea. What would they think of me, searching the space for invisible agents?

And then the bus drove by again. I watched it through the window. My sister was looking at me and must have seen worry on my face.

"I keep seeing that same bus drive by," I said.

My sister shrugged. "It always does that. It has a weird schedule."

July 14, 2006, evening

My father arrived soon afterwards. He wanted to take me to the hospital. By now I had given up on finding a way to reach CNN, or on getting a call back from the FBI. I let my father take control. My parents and I headed to the hospital while Fred and my sister remained behind.

As we drove to the hospital I sat in the back seat of the car, head resting on the glass of the window. I was sad and tired. I looked out onto the street and watched the pedestrians. It seemed that everyone was Hispanic or Asian. Where had all the white people gone? Victims of the Conspiracy, no doubt, or else they had fled the nation, like all those people on the jets I had heard the night they purged my neighborhood. All that was left here were recent immigrants, too poor to be targets of the Conspiracy - at least not yet.

With these depressing thoughts in my mind, I was taken to the hospital and admitted. I was placed in a wheelchair. I saw my father speak to a doctor, but I couldn't hear what they were saying. The doctor turned his face toward me, looking concerned. He nodded. I was taken to a room where a blood sample was drawn, then to a room with a hospital bed. There I lay with my mother sitting beside me, worrying, while my father remained outside with the doctor.

The doctor came in with my father and questioned me. He was friendly-looking, sincere. He wanted to know what was wrong. I told him about how I had heard killing going on in my neighborhood - gunshots and bone saws. It was horrifying and I was trying to convince my parents of the danger. He left for a few minutes, then returned.

"I just searched and I didn't see anything on the news about anything like that," he said. He shone a light in my eyes and examined them. Then he asked my parents to follow him out of the room. He quickly returned and shut the door behind him.

"I didn't want to mention this with your parents around," he said, "but your blood work came back positive for marijuana. Have you had any recently?" I nodded. Of course I had. That was what I used to relax after work.

He left again, ushering my parents into the room behind him. After another short wait he returned with a pill and a cup of water. "Here, take this," he said as he handed them to me. I obliged. Then he wrote out a prescription for more of the same - it was something called Zyprexa.

I was discharged, and we went and found a pharmacy where I could get the medication I had been prescribed. I could already feel the effects of the pill I had taken. It was like the edge was being taken off my mind. I was calming down, my anxiety about the Conspiracy beginning to abate.

When we got home Fred and my sister were watching TV. I sat on the couch and looked at the bottle of pills I had been given. I remembered that my new phone came with Internet, and loaded the browser to search for 'Zyprexa'. The page that appeared informed me that it was an anti-psychotic used for the treatment of schizophrenia.

So there it was. I was officially insane. This was how the Conspiracy protected itself from the ones who were smart enough to figure them out. It used its psychiatrist minions.

I lay down on the couch, exhausted, my eyelids heavy. The state of constant apprehension I had been in for days, my mind endlessly racing with thoughts of the Corporation's next nefarious move and my attempts to outwit them, was dissipating. Those thoughts were just melting away. I didn't care any more. All I wanted to do was sleep.

The Conspiracy had won.


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