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Old 12-06-2017, 05:37 PM   #194
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Some New Age philosophy?

Dr. Anderson is most interested in the dreams of the lovely Dr. Emma King, but another attempt to find her consciousness among the sleeping people at Manhanock Asylum yields no more than the first. Presumably she is having trouble sleeping after the excitement of the night. Anderson makes a note to check after later and moves on to anyone else who might have information of interest to him… or possess knowledge that might endanger Cherry Bell.

Mindful of the fact that the night is already half over and there are a lot of dreams to visit, Dr. Anderson develops a routine for the guards. First, he looks for memories of terrible things that they associate with Cherry Bell, which he finds with depressing regularity. Dr. Anderson then either recasts the situation so that the true culprit is Dr. Cotton or tries his best to remove all damaging memories of Bell, depending on which seems to work better.

Realising that a perfect success rate is as unattainable with dream-weaving as any other endeavour, Dr. Anderson takes care to weave his alterations into the fabric of Dr. Cotton’s hypnotic memory blocks and to leave the occasional clumsy memory of Cherry Bell as the cause of a guard’s terror. Even if someone from Onyx Rain were to realise that the guards’ memories have been altered, the conclusion that Anderson wants them to come to is that Dr. Cotton has implanted and modified the memories to frame others for his crimes.

If anyone with the same knowledge, skills and experience as Dr. Anderson were to examine the people whose dreams he visited, they would probably be able to unravel his interference with their memories. In fact, given how quickly he has to work with some of them, anyone formally trained in forensic dream analysis should be able to spot his tampering. In any case, the dream-mediated reprogramming isn’t permanent and any false memories will eventually fade.

Dr. Anderson relies, however, on the fact that as far as he knows, there is no one in the world aware that it is even possible to enter dreams the way he can do. While it is certainly within the realm of possibility that Onyx Rain has more information than they’ve shared with him and someone there knows or believes that such powers are possible, Anderson estimates that even the most open-minded psychologist would be more likely to ascribe any anomalies in witnesses’ memories to the drug-induced hypnosis that Dr. Cotton is known to have performed than to a third party outside their experience.

By the time the tampering that Dr. Anderson has performed wears off, the staff and guards of Manhanock Asylum will hopefully have given several statements in exhaustive detail, to Onyx Rain and whatever law enforcement entity is allowed access to witnesses. Assuming, of course, that the witnesses aren’t “disappeared” en masse as part of the cover story, in which case the first statements will be the only statements. Even if Onyx Rain eschews such drastic solutions, the necessity for rapid and decisive action on the cover-up means that the official narrative will have been set in the bureaucratic equivalent of stone after the first week of interviews.

Odds are, most of the witnesses will end up believing that the stories they’ve repeated over the past week or two are their real memories, especially when contrasted with fragmented and incomprehensible traumatic experiences they had months or years ago. For those who retain any clear memories of Ms. Bell’s “indiscretions”, few of them will be willing to re-open painful and terrifying interrogations merely to correct ancillary points and, in any case, the precise role of Cherry Bell in events will be a matter for interpretation. A befuddled witness coming up with an entirely new interpretation of events, days or weeks after the fact, will naturally be received with healthy scepticism by most investigators.


Sitting outside Cherry Bell’s cell block, Chase Taylor does his best to rest. Every time he closes his eyes, however, he sees Dr. Cotton’s face just before he shot him. Incomprehension mixed with relief in his eyes as Taylor starts to lower the gun, then raising his weapon arm again and with an almost simultaneous discharge, the three 9mm rounds entering the cerebellum too fast for Cotton ever to realise that death is coming. No time for fear, regrets or pain. No judgment, no justice, no vengeance. Just a flickering instant separating life from death.

Taylor thinks about the man he murdered and knows he should atone. Repent. Implore God for forgiveness. Regret his pride and his wrath, the irreparable harm caused by his intemperate lashing out, his hubristic assumption of the role of Lord the Redeemer. To his shame, Taylor cannot do it. He regrets, yes, but what he regrets is that Dr. Bruce Cotton is forever gone beyond his grasp and will never suffer the way he ought to suffer.

Despite being raised in a typical fire and brimstone Baptist congregation, Taylor’s belief in a loving God does not include a fiery hellscape where eternal tortures are inflicted upon a flawed humanity. Hell is simply the absence of God’s love and it is not a punishment, it is a choice. Taylor is horrified to find himself wishing that he is wrong and J. Frank Norris is right. That Dr. Cotton will burn in eternal torment, never know a moment’s peace until the end of days.

To distract himself from his dark thoughts, Taylor grabs the little notebook and pencil he brought with him. Gnawing on the end of the pencil, he tries to write something to Betty Rose and Savannah Belle, but has a hard time composing anything that Onyx Rain is likely to allow him to send his daughters. Eventually, he settles on short notes telling them he loves them. Hopefully Onyx Rain will want the outside world to keep believing that he is still incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth and will keep forwarding their mail to him.

Next, Taylor starts to write down everything that he couldn’t put in the letters to his daughters. Well, almost everything. An after-action report of events since they arrived at Jewell Island, not leaving out anything except those things which might endanger Sherilyn Bell. It is surprisingly close to the truth, only glossing over two conversations with her and any inferences that might be drawn about the nature of her powers.

Taylor knows that he’s a terrible liar and hopes to get away without having to tell any direct lies to professional interrogators. Much easier to simply not mention certain things.

After producing a rough outline of his report, Taylor looks around him for something else to distract himself with. He realises that it’s coming up on Saturday morning. About thirty-six hours until kick-off. Ripping out another page, he starts writing down a long shopping list and clicks the radio:

Taylor: “Hey, it’s Taylor; you there, O’Toole? Over.”
Agent O’Toole: “What the [fornication] do you want?”
Taylor: “Did y’all take care o’ Co-colas an’ food for everybody? You know, ‘cause the doc said stuff here might could be contaminated. Over.”
O’Toole: “No. I’ve been dealing with a fire, seriously wounded people, potential escaped basket cases, biohazards and other[faeces] that actually [fornicating] matters!”
Taylor: “Sorry, jes’ wanted to offer my help. I figure if’n you can get back to me with a number o’ people, I kin write up a requisition slip for some supper an’ thangs. Over.”
O’Toole: “Sure, fine, buddy, knock yourself out. We’re a 101, five EMTs here already, with at least fifty people coming from Onyx Rain. Just bring it to me when you are done.”
Taylor: “I really hate to be a bother, Danny-boy, but the doc asked me to stay put. Send an orderly you trust, half an hour? Over.”
O’Toole: “Damn it, you’re a pain in the ass even when you’re helping! Expect Bob in thirty.”
Taylor: “D’ya mind if’n I put on some Super Bowl snacks an’ candy from Walmart over yonder? Worley and Kowalski can stop by. For morale an’ stuff? Over.”
O’Toole: “Hell, put nuts, chips, candy and as many cases of beer as you want on there. Either they’ll give that [faeces] to us or they won’t.”
Taylor: “Roger that, Danny-boy. Out.”

Writing rapidly, Taylor finishes a huge list before Robert comes by to take it from him. Bob also hands him half a Snickers bar and a bottled water.

Bob the orderly: “Doc says to eat it, stay hydrated and try to rest up. Well, he actually said you ought to be asleep on an IV drip, but I declined to force you to go anywhere.”
Taylor: “Thanks, Robert. You’re a real good man.”
Bob: “And you’re probably crazy, but from what I can tell, there’s a lot more of us alive now than Warden Tyrrell would have left. Or the rats. So I guess you’re alright with me.
Just stay away from Inmate Bell. She’s not the cute, whimsical, indie movie kind of crazy. Maybe she got a raw deal, but the way she is now, she’s malicious, destructive, bad to the bone.”
Taylor: “Ain’t nobody bad to the bone. Everybody got both good an’ bad in them. Jes’ gotta give the good some time an’ love to grow.”
Bob: “That some New Age philosophy?”
Taylor: “Naw, Bob. I’mma jes’ fixin’ to be a good Christian. The best I can, anyhow.”
Bob: “God help you, then.”

After Robert leaves with the list of supplies, Taylor returns to his after-action report, starting to refine it. For all that it's meant to conceal the truth about Sherilyn Bell, some vestige of professional conscientiousness causes Taylor to care that the report is clear, concise and comprehensive. Onyx Rain may be going to kill him soon, but Taylor judges that Director Gujarat is serious about defending the US from any and all threats that emerge from Project Jade Serenity. Might as well give her the best information possible.
Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

Last edited by Icelander; 01-22-2018 at 10:21 PM.
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