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underwater

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten
Part Eleven

Spoilers

Introspectre is a re-telling/modernisation of The Call of Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft. That much should have been obvious to any Mythos fan from the Mythos tag and the names of some of the characters.

As with Cichol’s Children I was looking for a way to make the Mythos scary again and the best way to do that is, I think, to bring a bit of uncertainty and change back into it and never to truly, explicitly, name the creature.

Cthulhu was once the great symbol of existential horror and madness but through popularity has been debased to the point where he’s no longer scary. He’s a proto-kaiju, a Hello Kitty with tentacles, a cliché.

So what if you strip Cthulhu back to the base concepts and then build it back up? Cthulhu is apocalyptic, madness, incomprehensible. He is a threat we cannot understand and as much an infectious madness as anything else.

So the sea becomes the human mind. The time is right when we talk too much, when the ubiquitous chatter of the modern world becomes the neural pathways of a monster that is us, but is more than us. When the stars are right, it is our fault and a neurological singularity takes us all with it.

I hope you enjoyed it and get the reasoning behind the idea and the desire to recreate a classic in a way that can be scary again.

Introspectre was written in one sitting with no prep, only an idea that’s been lingering a while. If I decide to publish it, it will be rewritten and expanded.

From the personal blog of William Munday, retrieved 23/03/2014

I‘m making these posts and everythIng I’ve gathered publiC.

I went back to Doctor Lang’s lab today and went through all the recordings, as deep as the records would let me.

Those Klein-bottle things are present in every mind he ever scanned. They’re just dormant in some and active in others, like how a disease can hide away and Flare up again years later, like malaria or the spores of some bacteria.

Ideas can be like that too. hidden away in writing, stone tablets, cave art. Ancient ideas to whom we’re not even alive. To whom we’re a natural resource or a thing to live in and on, the same way we walk the ground, swim the water or fly through the air.

I doubt the idea even knows we exist, even knows we’re alive. I think, though, when we get a little too aware of it it reacts, or its immune system reacts at least. We would put out a fire, seal away toxic waste, clean water and that is what it did when it killed my uncle.

I know how insane that sounds, but there’s no doubt that ideas can kill. Religion kills every day. Hitler’s twisted ideas about eugenics and race killed millions. Millions more died because of the ideas of Mao and Stalin, ideas so powerful that reality was ignored.

Those are crude though, this idea is subtle enough to single out my uncle and have him killed. It’s smart enough to know who I am, what I have done. It’s smart enough to be aware of me.

The way the landlady watches me, the way the other guests watch me. If I could see inside their heads that twisted little thing would be writhing and multiplying, I just know it. I was followed to the lab by someone, some of the porters looked at me strangely and when I left I was followed again but I don’t know by who.

Of course, I could just be mad. Maybe I snapped under the pressure and the grief, under the strange ideas that frankly, I have never understood.

I knew this was big, but I never knew how big. How many more minds have to be infected before the idea truly awakens and then, when it awakes, will it be aware of us now? Will we still be us? Who or what will we be? Am I in charge of my own mind or am I the parasite, the bystander.

I’m part of something bigger now.

I need to tell people about it.

underwater

Extract from Neuroecology by Professor George Angel

The Noospheric Ocean

Moai-Statues-Easter-Island-3If the human mind is a sea in which ideas swim and compete then the collective human consciousness is an ocean. Ideas are not unique to an individual and are not isolated from each other. Ideas flow from one mind to another and can be gathered from a text, speech, music, and overheard conversation, a picture, a film anything you care to mention.

Like a Cichlid dropped by some passing bird into an empty African lake, a new idea can change, mutate and re-organise to meet its surroundings and might not also something greater be able to live across many seas, instead occupying this ocean of the mind?

When mankind spread across the Earth, communication was slow, limited to the speed of a man on horseback or the flow of the wind. Ideas could emerge and compete and find new niches. A perfect case in point might be the American Revolution, where old, strong ideas of monarchy and tradition, removed by a great ocean, could not wield the power they once did and were outstripped by younger, more vital, but ultimately vacuous concepts of liberty and freedom that have been dumbed down to the point of buzzwords.

JonestownNow with phones, the internet, the telegraph, the television, ideas spread from mind to mind almost as fast as they spread from neuron to neuron. The processing power of the combined human intellect is enormous and yet… and yet it does not seem to be working to our benefit. We are still the same, primitive, warring apes we ever were. Is it, perhaps, then not working to our benefit at all? Are we livestock to some meta-ego above the superego? Some supremely powerful memeplex that operates on the level of civilisations and cares no more for its environment than we do?

The more we talk to each other, the more information we record, process and communicate, the more likely this seems to me and if it hasn’t happened already, perhaps it will soon. Just as humanity emerged from the primordial physical soup, so too might something monstrous and alien emerge from our collective unconscious.

I think I have glimpsed it.

398px-NIMH_MEGFrom the personal blog of William Munday, retrieved 23/03/2014

I have a pretty horrible headache that won’t go away. Worse and better than a migraine at the same time and no amount of painkillers are making a dent. So I might as well sit here in the dark, squint at the blinding light of the netbook screen and get my thoughts down.

I met Doctor Lang at JRH and like everyone else I’ve met on this ‘quest’ to get to the bottom of my uncle’s murder… do I mean murder? Yeah I guess I do. I’ve got no actual proof but that’s my feelings at the moment. Anyway, like everyone else I’ve met along the way Doctor Lang is weirdly obsessed.

Lang’s work is in brain imaging, but it’s not the kind of crude MRI scan stuff we’re used to, those static slices of brain and blobs that show where the blood flows when you think about carrots or whatever. No, this is real time, building on the work of someone called ‘Nieuwenhuijzen’ who uses MEG (Magnetoencephalography) to image brains in real time and even interpret those signals and image them. Nieuwenhuijzen managed to get their device to understand when someone was thinking about or looking at numbers and letters. Lang’s work is a quantum leap ahead of that.

I had to sign some sort of official secrets thing before Lang would even talk to me and even then he was a nervous old bird (specifically a vulture, like in Spiderman, eerily so). I’m not even supposed to be writing this down but what else can I do? It’s how I organise my thoughts.

Anyway, Lang uses his MEG and a bunch of computers, to genuinely, actually read mind. It uses my uncle’s ideas to interpret what it reads subjectively so it’s not exactly precise but you can literally see thoughts, even ones a subject isn’t aware of.

Lang’s experiments are the connection.

They use my uncle’s theories and ideas about language and thought to interpret the data, the art students were the test subjects for the machine – they needed the money – and so it all hangs together.

It all hangs together except DI Grass’ worldwide murders. For them there’s no damn connection at all.

Lang showed me the visualisations he recorded from some of the students and I particularly asked to see Wilcox’s ones, since he seemed the most affected. The playback was swarming with a familiar image that made my skin crawl and ramped that feeling of paranoia up until I was shaking.

Wilcox’s recording was swarming with those weird Klein bottle images he’d been obsessing over, strange, twitching, endlessly complicated shapes like bundles of spaghetti passing through too many dimensions, swimming through his mind like so many grotesque jellyfish transforming through all their permutations.

Of course, I wanted to go into the machine.

Lang strapped me in, talked me through it, gave me a lecture on the preservation of helium and switched it on.

It’s a weird sensation, knowing your mind is being read. You don’t want to think of anything bad or wrong, which only means you do. Every bad break up, every illicit fantasy, everything you’ve ever done wrong, ever deepest, darkest secret. That was all I did really. I sat in the chair feeling guilty and trying to remember something similar I’d seen on the TV (Persinger’s God Helmet, but it works in the other direction).

Then it was done and we took a look at what had been recorded.

Sure enough, there were our little Klein-bottle friends swimming around in my mind and as we watched they split and multiplied and my headache got worse and worse.

I made it back here, somehow and now I can’t sleep. I have this irrational fear that these things are still there, in my mind, twisting and turning, eating away at everything else. I see that pattern everywhere now, in my uncle’s papers. In the art. Even in Grass’ stupid crime scene photos he keeps sending me. Pale reflections of that Klein bottle thing but echoes nonetheless and once you know what to look for, it’s all there.

I should sleep, paranoia or not.

From the personal blog of William Munday, retrieved 23/03/2014

Curiouser and Curiouser

Will keep this private, it’s pretty much a ‘note to self’. Maybe I’ll let a few of you see it with permissions controls.

Been here too long and the landlady is really starting to get on my tits. She keeps going through my things when I leave for the day. I appreciate she has to tidy up but I’ve been stuck here over a week now trying to make sense of all this and she’s had a lot of my money. A bit of privacy wouldn’t hurt too much.

I know she’s been going through uncle’s things I’ve stored there for research. Sticking her nose in. She knows I know too and I’ve been getting strange, synchronised glares from her and her other guests every morning over my Crunchy Nut. I hope I can wrap this up soon.

I miss London, the easy access to things to do. If you’re not a student there’s not a huge amount to do here and I have to go out every day while Mrs Nosey pokes around my stuff. I am so bored of pubs you have no idea.

It’s not like I’m that isolated, I have the internet, but I dread opening my mailbox or social media because every time I do there’s a dozen crazy messages from DI Grass about his bizarre conspiracy theories.

RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: WHAT’S THE CONNECTION???

He keeps asking and there isn’t one, its coincidence plus paranoia. What do they call it? False pattern recognition? Apophenia I think. I can’t even be bothered to Google it.

Yet in spite of all this, I still need to know what’s going on. I’ve got an appointment tomorrow that might shed some light.

Mr Wilcox, he of the scraggly beard and Klein bottle fixation, was committed. He got arrested trying to steal money and then babbled enough convincing nonsense at the arresting officers over a long enough period that he got committed. The police and his parents asked a few questions since I’d been poking around and that was suspicious but while they were talking to me I was talking to them and I found out something interesting.

Mr Wilcox had been getting payments through the university for some time related to his participation in some experiment or other. I chased it up with my good friends in admin, worked my charm (and a big packet of Ginger Nuts) and lo and behold I have an appointment with a Doctor Lang at John Radcliffe Hospital tomorrow to talk about it. A very nervous sounding Doctor Lang at that.

Extract from Neuroecology by Professor George Angel

The Integral Sea

If we think of the memes and memeplexes in terms of organisms. If we think of them like bacteria or animals and our minds, our nervous systems, as the world in which they exist do we not have a useful analogy or metaphor for understanding ourselves? Every day ideas, thoughts, fashions, anything that can be thought of in informational terms fights to persist in our brains, to thrive and to spread.

I think of it as an ocean, a deep, dark ocean.

At the surface are our conscious thoughts, the ideas that we are aware of in the moment. Fleet, fast, adaptable but visible. They breach the surface like dolphins or fly in the sky. As I think these words and move to type them the ideas and concepts that make them up are called to the surface, flashing and dazzling like a shoal of silvery fish.

As I try to recall a memory, larger, slower creatures – whales perhaps – rise to the surface to take a breath and show themselves before sinking back down into the darkness beneath.

Deeper, perhaps, we find the subconscious desires and thoughts that influence us powerfully and subtly. The Freudian id, if you will, or the Jungian unconscious if you won’t. Even deeper still, perhaps, the truly unconscious, the autonomic nervous system, the beat of the heart, the swell of the lungs, the reflexes, the basics of life.

What niches have their analogues in the ecosystem of the mind? Are there plants, passive thoughts, immutable solidities of perception feeding on regular, but weak, use. The recognition of a colour perhaps, or a sound. Are there herbivores? Big, placid, slow moving ideas of certitude and solidity. Are there predators? Fast moving ideas that wipe out and kill others, feasting on their corpses and replacing them?

When one sees a previously rational man overcome with religious fervour, tossing aside the validity of reason and embracing madness it is not hard, I admit, to picture a writhing mass of sharks within his head, frenziedly eating up what common sense he might have had.

How complex, how evolved can these ideas be? Is our consciousness the apex of the mental ecosystem and does it emerge from or coexist with these other memes? Might there not be other, greater noospheric organisms alongside us, unseen, beneath these metaphorical waves?

Do all ideas, all consciousness, share a common memetic ancestor and can we derive that fundamental root to all thought. The double-helix if the meme.

From the personal blog of William Munday, retrieved 23/03/2014

An Inspector Calls

Forgive the title. I couldn’t help myself.

I should really check into a proper hotel or something, but I haven’t had the advance on my next book yet and ‘unca George’ didn’t see fit to leave me any money when he had a pretty intern to give it to. I’ve been here enough days now, untangling his mess, that people know where to find me and I’ve gotten to be on nodding terms with a few dog walkers and the guy at the corner shop.

I’ve been here long enough that a policeman knew to come looking for me here just after breakfast and take me for a little stroll in the park to ask me about uncle George.

I knew there had to be more to this. Since I got here I’ve had this paranoid feeling that something is going on, just outside my reach, just beyond my grasp and it seems like Detective Inspector Grass feels the same way.

He told me he’d worked with my uncle a few times over the last couple of years. It all started with a suicide cult, though I don’t remember anything from the news about it. Grass told me they’d had a bunch of complaints about travellers on a site not that far from here but when they went to knock on doors and move them on they all had apart from one bus. The people in that were almost all dead, weird writing all over the walls, foreigners fresh across the channel different to the other travellers.

Nobody could make sense of the writing and the survivors – they’d deliberately poisoned themselves with ergot – the kind of poison associated with outlandish tales of witches and devils in the past – and had contorted themselves to death. Those that hadn’t didn’t speak English anyway and didn’t say much of anything.

Nobody knew what the writing or symbols were and give Uncle’s work on languages and cryptography (back in the day) they consulted with him about it, but even he couldn’t tell them much about it. It was meaningful, but he couldn’t work out what it meant – and nobody really gave enough of a damn about a handful of dead, illegal immigrants anyway.

DI Grass seemed a bit intense and it all sounded a bit off the books. He was a bit too excited about everything and told me he’d been looking into this since the first incident and that there were others. That he’d talked to my uncle on and off about it and that these deaths were ‘hidden’ somehow. If he hadn’t had a badge I’d have written him off as one of those internet ‘truthers’ who’d drunk too much of the David Icke Kool-Aid.

Plus he seemed to agree with my suspicions that my uncle’s death might not have been as natural as it seemed.

He’s going to stay in touch, but I’m not that sure how to take it.

I’m keeping this post locked down for now, friends only.

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