The Yellow Notebook
“Hell is other people!” So wrote Jean-Paul Sartre in his 1944 play No Exit. Little could he have known at the time that this anguished ejaculation of existentialism would become the unofficial credo of the modern day retail employee. Like the chorus of some pretentious yet nonetheless catchy Parisian pop song, the phrase “Hell is other people!” had a habit of repeating itself in my head over and over again during my shifts at Covers, which was the name of the bookstore where I worked full-time as a bookseller. It was certainly echoing in my head on the date of June 10th, 2011, the evening on which I first laid eyes on the Yellow Notebook. Oh! That infernal Yellow Notebook! If only I had called in sick that day, I could have spared myself from the present misery I now find myself enmeshed in. But, alas, I get ahead of myself.
My name is Frederick Fripp. The October of which I speak marked my five year anniversary working at the Covers bookstore in question. It was a job I had taken reluctantly upon graduating from Fludd University in 2006, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology. Sadly, following my graduation from college and my entrance into the real world, I discovered a most bitter truth: that in today’s dire economic times, theologians aren’t exactly in big demand, and employers aren’t looking for people who have read St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica in its entirety, or who had studied the Catholic Catechism for enjoyment (yes, I’m talking about myself here). Therefore, I had no choice but to roll up my sleeves, as they say, and venture forth into the revolting world of retail.
In the old days, when Christian artists wished to depict scenes of hell-fire and damnation, they would paint grim vistas of demons and flames, naked bodies and boiling cauldrons. These days, they could simply paint the interior of a Walmart and achieve the same effect. The dark woods that Dante finds himself lost in at the start of his Divine Comedy would, in our modern era, be found not in some wilderness, but smack dab in the center of Target. Big-box stores: our 21st-century Inferno. Please do not mistake me for a misanthrope. I don’t loathe the (highly overrated) human race by any means, but after a couple of years spent serving the great unwashed masses, one becomes first jaded, then utterly disgusted by their idiotic antics. And seeing as how I was the customer service specialist at the Covers I worked at, and was thus permanently stationed behind the octagonal information desk in the central aisle, it was almost as if I were a lightning rod for stupidity.
And that night of June 10th was a doozy. One customer told me he was seeking out the books “Fire Hydrant 451” and “One Hundred Years of Salad, Too,” by which he meant Fahrenheit 451 and One Hundred Years of Solitude, naturally. Then there was a customer who asked if we had any Urdu translations of the Twilight series. Someone else asked me if I had read Demonic, Ann Coulter’s new book. But worst of all was the lady who called the store over the phone, asking if we had any books written by a particular author. When I asked for the name of the author, she said his first name was Aesop and his last name was Fables. I could barely contain my scornful laughter while dealing with this latter specimen. During every one of these unfortunate customer interactions, I could all the while hear Sartre’s bitter lament ringing inside my skull like the sickening peals of syphilitic church bells.
But still, time marched on (now there’s a phrase I can never look at the same way again!), and eventually it was 9:30 PM. By this point in the evening, the store was all but deserted, and we were only 30 minutes away from locking up for the night. I was just about to abandon the information desk and begin the tedious task of tidying up the store when I heard the front doors open, which could mean only one thing: a customer. I looked up, just in time to see a man walking down the store’s central aisle in my direction. He was middle-aged, a tall fellow with an egg-shaped head, blonde moustache and neatly-trimmed beard. Glasses framed his inquisitive blue eyes. He was wearing a dark blue jacket (with the Lambda symbol on the back), black jeans, and beat-up sneakers, while perched atop his head was a nondescript baseball cap. He looked like the kind of man who could tell you that the eagle that dropped the fatal tortoise upon the bald head of the Greek playwright Aeschylus in 455 BC had most likely been a Lammergeier, otherwise known as the bearded vulture. In his left hand he held a tattered yellow notebook, which he set down on the surface of the info desk upon reaching it.
“Good evening, welcome to Covers, how may I help you?” I asked, reciting the words taught to me by my corporate masters as if they were an incantation from a spell for a ritual of black magic.
"I know you guys are closing soon, and I figured maybe you could help me find some books I’m seeking, even though I’m pretty sure you won’t have them in stock,” he said in a quiet and reserved voice as he flipped his notebook open. In some ways the notebook was like him, in that its exterior was utterly unremarkable-looking, with a very generic yellow cover: you could find any number of ones just like it at any office supply depot or convenience store. What made this man’s yellow notebook so unique was the content he had filled it with, for he had divided each of its white-lined pages into three columns of equal size, these columns then being further subdivided into boxes. In the interior spaces of this multitude of boxes the man had written a staggering amount of cryptic words and phrases that made little to no sense to me at all. Much of it struck me as a lot of New Age gobbledygook: I saw references to aura photography, crystal energy, holotropic breathwork, the Akashic Records, Star Gate opening, prema rebirthing, King Solomon healing modality, chakra therapy, and 22 Strand DNA Activation (which, now that I think about it, would be a pretty cool name for a noise-pop rock band). Interspersed within these phrases were words such as “metaphysical,” “harmony,” “holistic,” “Universal,” and “Atlantis,” this latter word seeming to appear with a greater frequency than any other. Mixed in with all of this was other seemingly unconnected data, such as historical UFO sightings, the weather patterns over the pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge, quotations from the Upanishads of the Hindus, recipes for spells, and other assorted esoterica. The interior of the man’s yellow notebook struck me as resembling the contents of an old curiosity shop of the occult, and as he flipped through it seeking the page he was looking for I tried to subtly glimpse as many of its details as I could. The more I saw of it, the more it fascinated me; it felt like I was journeying through the man’s imagination, being allowed to peek into his own private inner universe, and I quickly came to the conclusion that this man was much more interesting than his outward appearance had initially suggested. Assuming that it was indeed he who had filled up the pages of this notebook with its scintillating lore.
One page that I briefly saw especially captivated my attention. Like practically every page of the notebook, it was divided into three columns, but while on every other page the boxes within the columns had been neatly filled in with words, on this page that now caught my eye I saw that the man had written down the question “What is the Flaw?” over and over again, in bright red ink, the words being splashed all over the page in a haphazard fashion with no rhyme or reason. In my mind this only deepened the mystery of the Yellow Notebook.
Finally, the man came across the page he was looking for, towards the back of the notebook, and on this page was a list of book titles followed by the names of the authors who had written them. Three of these book titles had been circled, and the man asked me if I could search our store’s database to see if we had any copies of them in stock. The three books he was looking for were Ashayana Deane’s Angelic Realities, Dr. Richard Bartlett’s The Physics of Miracles, and The Gur Experiments by Dr. Phineas Otto. Perhaps needless to say, we didn’t have any of these books in stock, which didn’t surprise me in the least, so I offered to order them for him. I proceeded to get his contact information, first his phone number and e-mail address (so we could contact him when his books arrived), followed by his name, which was Bruce Kadmon. Thinking back, it strikes me as being funny that his name seemed to sum him up so well. By this I mean that on one hand you had his first name, Bruce, which is a fairly banal and commonplace first name, just as his very appearance was unexceptional. Yet his last name was Kadmon, which brought to mind Adam Kadmon, the “Primal Man” of the Qabalists, and which seemed to symbolize his inner life, which was represented by his notebook.
Upon completing his order I printed out an order slip, so he could go pay for the books at the registers at the front of the store. Bruce politely thanked me for my assistance, then walked off to the registers, still clutching his Yellow Notebook, which I was very sad to see go: I wished I had hours to examine its contents at leisure. I heard him being cashed out at the front, and a moment later I saw him exit the store.
By now there were only five minutes left until we locked up for the evening. I decided to head to the front of the store, to the registers, to see if the lone cashier on duty had any books that needed to be returned to their proper places on the shelves. Imagine my surprise when, upon reaching the registers, I noticed the Yellow Notebook resting on the counter next to the cashier’s register.
Upon noticing my reaction to seeing the Yellow Notebook (I suppose I must have made a face of some sorts), the cashier said, “Oh yeah, this last guy I just cashed out forgot his notebook here.”
“That guy was my uncle,” I told her, pleased at how I had come up with a lie so quickly. “I’ll just take that and give it to him when I see him tomorrow.”
“Okay,” the cashier said. The expression on her face made me wonder if perhaps she didn’t believe my story, but at the same time she seemed relieved when I picked up the notebook and took it away from her. It was strange, but it was almost as if the notebook frightened her in some way, and I wondered if maybe she had flipped through it a bit.
After the store was closed and the manager sent us all on our way for the evening, I climbed into my car and drove straight home. Twenty minutes later and I was standing in the center of my cluttered yet comfy apartment. I wasted no time in scanning each and every page of the Yellow Notebook onto my computer. I had the following day off, and it was my intention to read the entire thing then before I took the next step of calling Bruce and telling him that I had recovered his lost property. Ah, how excited I was that night, when what I really should have done was set the notebook aflame and scatter its accursed ashes to the four winds!
The following day found me reading Bruce’s Yellow Notebook. It didn’t take me all that long to read the whole thing, but then again, I’ve always been something of a fast reader. And though I initially found its schizophrenic content to be puzzling, the further I read into the notebook the more it began to make some sort of weird sense to me. Essentially, I realized that what Bruce was trying to map out in the Yellow Notebook was a blueprint for a new religion, one that took a vast multitude of New Age concepts and wedded them to the more positive elements of all the world’s major religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism.
But no, that’s not entirely accurate. It wasn’t so much that he was creating a new religion as it was that he were seeking to rediscover one, a belief system that he believed was originally both taught and practiced amongst the people of Atlantis, that mythical long-lost kingdom that has fascinated many people for centuries. Bruce obviously believed that Atlantis was an actual place, one that had practiced a supremely ethical religion that he thought was far more advanced than the ones that we’re familiar with today.
If Bruce’s more recently dated entries were anything to go by, it was evident that he believed he had nearly succeeded in bringing the particulars of this forgotten religion to full restoration. However, there was something which troubled him, a hole in his theory that he referred to somewhat abstractly as “the Flaw.” The question “What is the Flaw?” appeared numerous times throughout the Yellow Notebook, including the page I previously mentioned in which Bruce had written out the question over and over again, apparently in an infantile burst of frustration.
As I concluded my initial reading of the Yellow Notebook, I realized that Bruce had still not answered his own question, that the enigmatic lacuna still haunted the yellowing pages of his research. Or maybe he had, and had just not felt the need to write it down, though this struck me as very unlikely. It would seem that he still did not know what this “Flaw” in his religion was.
Later on that evening, I sent him an e-mail: I had found his e-mail address written on the contact information on the inside cover of the Yellow Notebook, though we had it on file in our database at Covers as well. I explained to him that I worked at Covers, had recently ordered some books for him, and that I had found his misplaced notebook, the one he had accidentally left behind, and that I wished to return it to him. Bruce replied back to me only a couple of minutes after I sent him this e-mail. He thanked me profusely for having recovered his precious notebook, and asked how I planned to go about returning it to him. I e-mailed him back with instructions to meet me outside of Covers at 2:50 PM the following afternoon, ten minutes before the start of my shift for that evening. After he replied back to me agreeing with this arrangement, I powered down my computer and went to bed, my eyes very tired and strained from all of the reading that I had done that day.
The following afternoon I stood outside the main entrance of Covers, the Yellow Notebooks in my hands. At 2:50 PM on the dot, an old VW Type 2 “Hippie Van” pulled up to the curb, its exterior surface decorated with colorful psychedelic artwork: it looked like a time machine that had just teleported itself from the Haight-Ashbury district of the 1960’s. Bruce emerged from this relic a moment later. When he saw me standing there waiting for him with the Yellow Notebook in my hands, he smiled uncomfortably and walked over to where I stood, and I noticed that he was wearing a black t-shirt depicting the cover art of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon album. He thanked me (somewhat profusely I felt) for recovering his notebook, and he even tried to give me a small cash reward, which I politely turned down.
After a minute or so of banal chit-chat, Bruce told me he had to run and began walking off. Originally, I had no intention of telling him that I had read his notebook; I had worried that he would view such an admission as a total invasion of his privacy. Yet as I saw him walk off, I was suddenly compelled to confess, “You know, I read your notebook.”
He stopped walking and turned around to face me, an eyebrow raised. “Oh?” he asked, in a tone more curious than upset. “And what did you think of it?”
“I think that what you’re trying to do is admirable… maybe even noble,” I said, not sure where these unrehearsed words were coming from. “But I think I know what the ‘Flaw’ in your religion is.”
“Would you then be so kind as to enlighten me?” he asked, a hint of eagerness in his voice.
“The ‘Flaw’ in your religion is that there is no flaw,” I said. “You’ve failed to take into account the problem of evil… and any religion that doesn’t try to provide an explanation for why evil exists is hardly a religion worth following.”
Bruce paused and considered this, a thoughtful expression on his Sphinx-like face. “You know, you just might be onto something,” he eventually said, upon snapping out of his trance. “I’ll have to meditate on that. Thanks for the insight, though.”
“No problem,” I said. “And good luck.” I watched as he climbed back into his car and drove off. Then I entered the store to begin my shift.
I had thought, at the time, that that would be my last glimpse of Bruce Kadmon and his weird Yellow Notebook. In a way, I was half right in this prediction, as I never laid eyes on Bruce himself again. However, about five months after our final encounter in the flesh, while sitting in my living room reading the recently published Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, I heard a knock at my front door. Outside was a UPS man, holding a package I had to sign for. I received quite a shock when, upon carefully unwrapping the parcel, I once again laid eyes on the Yellow Notebook, along with a few sheets of paper on which many words had been typed out.
My first reaction was to pick up the Yellow Notebook and flip through it, and I saw that it was for the most part unchanged since my first reading of it five months ago, though some new content had been added to the final pages. I laid the notebook down and picked up the sheets of typed paper, feeling very confused. Why had Bruce mailed to me his beloved notebook? I decided to consult the sheets of paper to see if they would shed any light on this puzzling question. I now reprint here the entire letter that Bruce wrote for me, with not a word omitted:
“Dear Frederick,” (so began the letter), “I hope this package finds you in good spirits. I’m sure you remember me, Bruce Kadmon. And I’m also sure you remember my precious notebook. If you’re reading this letter and holding my notebook in your hands, it means I’m dead. Dear me, I suppose that’s a morbid way to begin a letter, but why mince words? In my will I made it clear that my notebook, and this letter that accompanies it, should be sent to you upon my death. So now that you have it, be assured that I am no longer a member of the living.
“It was your insight about the ‘Flaw’ in my religious system on that day you returned to me my notebook that began my road to ruin. I became obsessed with trying to explain the existence of evil and suffering, which now to me obviously had to be the hole in things that spoiled the harmony of the pattern I was weaving together. The only comfort I could take during that dark night of the soul was the fact that the same question (that is, how to explain the existence of evil and suffering) had tormented both philosophers and theologians far more intelligent than I for centuries. The more I analyzed the problem, the more I began to ponder a question that I found to be equally disturbing, which was this: for many years I had been working under the assumption that the citizens of Atlantis had practiced a method or system of religion so advanced that it made the belief systems we’re so familiar with seem like crude fairy tales designed to amuse children. Yet if they had actually formulated and practiced the greatest religion ever conceived by the minds of Man, why had their civilization been seemingly sucked into a sea of oblivion, swept right off the face of the Earth? That’s what came to trouble me more than anything else. The idea that the flaw in their religion that I had spent so many years of my life painstakingly reconstructing wasn’t just the existence of evil, but something far more sinister, something almost Platonic in its archetypal malignity. All the more galling to me was the knowledge that I would never really know what had actually happened to Atlantis, assuming that the kingdom had ever even existed in the first place.
“Unorthodox problems require equally unorthodox solutions. It so happens I have a friend who’s a member of a small coven of witches based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They own a farm outside the village of Mt. Orab, a farm where they conduct highly specialized sex-magick rituals, rituals in which the members of the coven astrally project themselves backwards in time, so that they can witness actual historical events as remote viewers. This coven believed themselves to be the genetic descendants of the priesthood of Atlantis, and were planning on carrying out a series of rituals with the intention of reconnecting with their past lives, or something along those lines. When my friend found out about my interest in Atlantean culture, she suggested I accompany her to her coven’s farm and partake in the ritual. A proposal I found to be somewhat dubious: being raised in the Roman Catholic tradition, I’ve always felt a taboo fascination with the occult, while at the same time believing that dabbling in it can expose one to demonic spirits from the Dark Side. Nevertheless, academic curiosity triumphed over childhood superstition, and I agreed to partake in their Akashic Working.
“So I accompanied my friend to the coven’s farm in September of 2011, the date of the ritual being Sept. 23rd, the Autumnal Equinox. The ritual took place in an abandoned barn on the farm owned by the coven. Funny, whenever a barn figures into the plot of a horror novel or short story, it almost always serves as the place where bizarre occult rituals take place (consider, for example, H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Dunwich Horror’). But I digress. Large banners depicting Nazi-like alien runes were hanging from the rafters near the ceiling, and a most curious and foul-smelling incense was being burnt. The interior of the barn was quite crowded, and I counted at least thirty people present, mostly African-Americans in various states of undress, looking like extras from a racist zombie-themed B-horror movie from the 1930’s or something. Presiding over the Working was the coven’s master, whose magical name was Frater Tsalal. He was an anemic-looking bald man with piss-yellow eyes, and he was clad in a hooded black robe.
“Before I knew it, the ritual had begun. It started with the Africans banging large tribal drums in an arrhythmic, off-tempo fashion. Frater Tsalal began chanting out barbarous names of evocation, similar to the long strings of vowels that one often comes across while studying Gnostic treatises. Meanwhile, my friend and I began spinning madly around, like two tops, trying to get ourselves as dizzy as possible (we were also clad in black robes, which made me feel more than a little foolish). It was this spinning, combined with the frenetic drumming and Frater Tsalal’s hypnotic intonations, which created within me an altered state of consciousness. I guess the strange herbs and incense the coven was burning may have also added to the effect. Eventually I became so dizzy that I collapsed to the ground, the world whirling around me, and that’s when the weird thing happened.
“Suddenly, I was no longer in an abandoned barn on a farm outside of Mt. Orab, Ohio. Instead, I found myself floating above the streets of long-lost Atlantis, as it was 30,000 years ago. At least that’s what I recall happening… after all, trying to capture an experience such as this with mere words strikes me as being an exercise in futility, but I shall give it my best shot. Images began flashing before my eyes like spontaneous insights, regurgitations of my Triune brain. I saw Atlantis at the height of its gaudy glory, and before me was Zukong Gimorland-Siragosa, its largest city: its streets were made of paved and polished seashells, its slender towering spires of sparkling green emerald that were connected to each other by a vast network of spider web bridges, its vehicles constructed of giant wheeled conch shells. Atlantis was an island nation, located in a spot which I believe is somewhere in the North Atlantic, and its population consisted of olive-skinned, furry-bodied, somewhat Asiatic people dressed in the most exquisite hand-crafted clothing imaginable. I saw these people bartering beneath festive tents in the city marketplace, witnessed their ritual sacrifices conducted in the name of Daoloth, the Atlantean God of Astronomers, atop temples covered in coral reef… I saw exuberant celebrations featuring thousands of dancing spectators, religious festivals in honor of kraken mating rituals, orgiastic parades involving the consumption of strange drugs, rallies in support of the Party of Science, the crucifixion of Lilith Velkor, and always, in the background, that swirling, utterly mindphasing music.
“I’m not sure how long I remained in this trance state: it felt as if I were a viewer of day-to-day Atlantis for years, but in point of fact it was really probably around an hour or so. The last image I can recall being shown to me was that of the destruction of Atlantis itself, an event known as “The Hour of Godseye:” I saw a number of explosions lay waste to that terrible and glorious city, explosions that unleashed great black and red horns of smoke into the sky. Then I saw the island itself sink into the sea, watched it get swallowed up by the hungry ocean. All of this disturbed me greatly. Why had the Atlantean people committed a mass suicide in such a spectacular fashion (as I was sure that it was a deliberate act: the explosions had obviously been controlled)?
“When I came back to my senses, I found that the ritual was over, and that the barn was all but deserted, save for Frater Tsalal, my friend, and myself. In an excited fashion, I began to relate to them all of the wondrous things I had seen. They then told me that I had been in a trance state for an hour, and that while I had been in this trance state I had written out a letter. Confused, I asked them what they meant, and they informed me that while in the trance I had demanded a writing instrument and some scraps of paper. When these requested items were thus provided to me, I began writing on the paper while remaining in a trance. Essentially what I had been doing was a sort of automatic writing, or so I first assumed. Curious about all of this, I asked to see what I had written, and they handed over to me the ‘letter,’ which had been written onto a few pieces of ordinary lined paper.
“To put it as bluntly as possible, it appeared that while I was in this trance state my body was possessed by an ancient Atlantean priest who went by the somewhat flamboyant name of Vor-Thol-Farrazza. And while he was briefly in control of my body, he had taken the opportunity to write out a warning to our modern-day civilization. At first I was skeptical about this; I wondered if perhaps Frater Tsalal had written out the letter himself prior to the ritual and lied to me about my having written it. The only flaw with this hypothesis was that the handwriting in the letter was my own, and to prove it to myself afterwards I took it and another example of my writing to a graphologist, who carefully compared the two and declared that they were indeed both written by the same person. Which left me with the following conclusion: either Frater Tsalal was a master forger (which I doubted: he looked like the sort of person who would be unable to open a jar of jam), or I had actually written out this letter in my trance state.
“I wish that I still had this letter, as I would have enclosed it with this note you’re now reading, but I was so repulsed by the knowledge which I gained from it that I ended up setting fire to it in disgust. But I recall enough of it to summarize it to you. Vor-Thol-Farrazza (for the sake of brevity I’ll refer to him simply as “Vor” for the rest of this account) was a theological scientist during the Last Days of Atlantis. In many ways he was a man much like myself, a hermetic and erudite fellow in search of ancient knowledge. At the time of his temporal existence, he had been a member of Atlantis’ Party of Science, whose symbol was a pyramid with an eye in the center, this pyramid being encircled by a snake biting its own tale. The Party of Science’s base of operations was the palace of Zukong Gimorland-Siragosa, this palace resembling a giant black pyramid that was thousands of feet high: the top point of the pyramid employed anti-gravity generators to hover 500 feet above the base, and inscribed into the center of this tip was a giant unblinking eye. Vor, a student of the great scientist known as Gruad, was one of the most acclaimed scientists in the kingdom of Atlantis: it was he who had figured out how to imprison the monstrous lloigor Yog-Sothoth in the Great Pentagram of Atlantis. In any event, prior to Atlantis’ destruction Vor had been in charge of a special committee authorized by Emperor Bas-Dali-Valik, the purpose of this committee being to take all of the then current religions and spiritual belief systems of the world of Antiquity and synthesize them into a new unified and harmonic theological system, which would then become the official religion of Atlantis. Essentially, the task that Vor was undertaking was the exact same thing as what I had been attempting to do with my Yellow Notebook.
“For many months, Vor toiled in the great circular libraries of Atlantis, working around the sundial to create this new and improved religion, and in this task he was aided by his fellow scientists, along with a few of Atlantis’ most erudite priests and priestesses. Finally, they succeeded in their task: but there was just one flaw. That is, the primordial ur-flaw: the problem of evil. The priests and scientists of Atlantis wondered, why do children suffer? Why do human beings age and die? Why does metal rust, and food spoil? How to explain decay? In our so-called enlightened age, to answer some of these questions we turn to the second law of thermodynamics, which defines our concept of entropy. But the priests and esoteric mathematicians of ancient Atlantis were far more innovative and creative in their approach to these questions.
“After long periods of strenuous astral travel and Akashic workings, Vor and his team came to two final conclusions. Their first conclusion was that the world we see around us, the world which we perceive with our senses, was just an illusion; or, at the very least, a flimsy imitation of a higher (or, perhaps, lower) reality. This was hardly an earthshattering revelation, as later religious belief systems (such as Hinduism and Gnosticism) arrive at pretty much the same conclusion. But the second discovery of the Atlanteans was far more horrifying. They claimed to have unearthed another layer of reality, this one being far superior to our own, and this reality (of which our world is just a shadow) was populated by creatures so incredibly hostile that the Atlanteans couldn’t even bring themselves to describe their physical appearance. These creatures, whom the Atlanteans referred to as the Entropiors, survived on a diet of matter itself. In other words, these invisible monsters were the true cause that lay behind what we classify today as entropy or decay. They created the universe as we know it to serve as a steady food supply, almost as if the cosmos we live in is their own personal garden, or a galactic slaughterhouse. We perceive the presence of these Entropiors as the gradual passing of time, which is actually a sort of slow-motion digestion. It would appear that we don’t waste time: rather, time wastes us. The decay of a corpse, the erosion of a landscape, the death of a star, can all be traced back to one cause: the endless hunger of the Entropiors.
“As one can imagine, the Atlanteans were repulsed by this discovery, and who can blame them? They were forced to consider this nightmarish question: what if the foundation on which what we refer to as reality were not a stone but the kind of thing one finds under a stone? A wriggling and wretched abyss of parasites, a sinkhole of malefic bacteria that has no bottom? This realization plunged the citizens of Atlantis into a state of total existential and metaphysical despair, for now they knew the awful truth behind the appearance of all phenomena, the abominable projector of the reflection that is our reality. Coming to the conclusion that no rational human society could ever cope with this nauseating truth, the citizens of Atlantis decided that the secret would die with them. So their entire civilization committed suicide, and they used a network of sophisticated (for that time period) explosive devices to sink the city beneath the sea, where it would be lost forever. And thus was the world once more plunged into a new dark age of blissful ignorance. The discovery of the Entropiors was once again forgotten, until, that is, thousands of years later, when I re-assembled the fatal truth.
“Like anyone else would have been, I was repulsed by Vor’s message to our people, which was, essentially, a warning to me to terminate my quest to piece together the long-lost religion of Atlantis. As you already know I destroyed this letter, but how could I myself forget this warning from the past? It wasn’t as if I could just erase this knowledge from my mind… as it is, I’ve always had an almost flawless memory anyway. I was facing the same conundrum that vexed the priests and scientists of Atlantis; knowing what I now knew, that everything in this universe is primarily cattle, how could I possibly go on? What was the point of living when our own lives were revealed to be utterly pointless?
“Of course, some of my skepticism still remained. It must be remembered that when one is in a trance state, one can believe anything. I decided to go about trying to see if I could actually steal a glimpse of one of the Entropiors with my own two eyes. But how exactly could I go about doing this, I wondered… Realizing that the Entropiors use phenomena to blind us, I decided to conduct an experiment in which I strived to reduce, as greatly as possible, nearly all examples of outside stimuli.
“This is what I ended up doing. I’m sure a young man as clever as yourself has heard of the infamous ‘White Room’ experiments conducted by one Dr. Bruckner at the Auschwitz concentration camp, and it was a variation on this experiment that I set out to recreate, with the aid of my trusty manservant, who wishes to remain anonymous: for the sake of my narrative, I’ll refer to him as Igor, and no, he isn’t a hunchback.
“This was how it all played out: we converted one of my laboratory’s spare rooms into a spherical chamber which we then proceeded to paint entirely white, to create the illusion of limitless space. In a chamber such as this, no other objects were allowed, no furniture or decorations, so as to give the test subject’s attention span as few distractions as possible. Igor strapped me down to a chair which made it impossible for me to move, while earplugs went into my ears so that I couldn’t hear a thing, aside from my own thoughts. Waste tubes were attached to my genitals and anus so that I could go to the bathroom if the urge struck me, while various nutrient and water tubes were connected to my body, to keep me alive during the experiment. The final touch was an epidermal injection into my spine, which Igor was kind enough to administer: this had the effect of numbing my entire body below the neck, so that I could no longer feel it. It literally felt as if I had become a floating head, and I no longer felt attached to my body. Igor sealed up the chamber, and thus free of distractions, I began to concentrate as hard as I could.
“There are some who claim that isolation is one of the quickest paths to insanity. Perhaps there is some truth to that belief. Maybe I did lose my mind in that isolation chamber: I certainly lost all sense of time, all sense of day or night, even all sense of self. I was alone in the alone, with no idea as to what was going on in the outside world… and a few days into the experiment, the very concept of an ‘outside world’ ceased to exist in my mind. All around me was a void of white, with nothing to focus on- I couldn’t even stare down at my body thanks to the epidermal injection to the spine, and seeing as how I couldn’t feel my body either, I began to wonder if maybe that, too, was nothing more than an abstraction. It was as if my body had dissolved and I had become pure mind, an astronaut sailing through a featureless abyss; I felt as if I had become trapped in one of Hergéinfamous white nightmares, the very ones that had inspired Tintin’s travelogues in terrifying Tibet. The boredom, as you can imagine, was excruciating.
“I’m not sure exactly what day of the experiment that the Entropiors first made their presence known to me: as I said, in that isolation chamber time was just a word that had lost all meaning for me. The first of the Entropiors manifested itself as a blurriness that I could just make out of the corner of my eye, to my left, though I was unable to turn my head to look at it because I was immobilized. But gradually this blurriness began to assume a distinct shape, and as it came into focus I could make it out in greater detail. It was somewhat lizard-like in shape, being slightly larger than a gecko, with four legs and a long tail, and its body was covered with green and black scales. Four wings sprouted from its back: a bat wing, a raven wing, a dragonfly wing, and an oversized wasp wing. Its head was essentially a long eyeless annelidian protrusion that resembled the prostomium of the oligochaetes, with a shrew-like mouth lined with pointy teeth located on the underside of the fleshy protrusion.
“All this time I had been so busy focusing on this one lone Entropior that I had failed to observe others just like it materializing all around me. Some were attached to my face (and presumably my body) like leeches, while hundreds of others covered the blank metal walls of the isolation chamber. Which, I suppose, made sense, as the walls were still made up of matter, which was what the Entropiors feasted on.
“So there I was, paralyzed, unable to do anything but stare in horror at this most disgusting spectacle. How precisely the Entropiors ‘aged’ the matter they feasted on, I have no idea. But things were quickly going from bad to worse. It was as if large swatches of the white void before me began peeling away, revealing, as it were, the Outer Church that lay behind it… as if our reality were just wallpaper covering up a wall. This was a most gradual process, but each new glimpse of this proto-reality filled my soul with fresh spasms of existential terror, until finally, the walls of my prison were gone and I was gazing upon what can only be described as an alien world, or dimension.
“I will now attempt to relate to you what I saw, or rather what I thought I saw. Picture, if you can, a collection of asteroids hanging above a nebular void, while above these asteroids the sky was filled with enormous holes, and within these holes were the compound eyes of gigantic bugs. The floating asteroids looked as if they were made of candle wax, and they appeared to function as the homes of the Entropiors, and these asteroids were teeming with stationary bio-luminescent plants, along with skeletal towers that soared high into the air like extraterrestrial minarets, and large floating orbs of quivering, blood-encrusted flesh.
“Floating in the center of these asteroids was a very large rock with a hollow center. Within this hollow center there was a large cavern, in the center of which was a large crater filled with some sort of bubbling amniotic glue that seemed to be a lake, and hovering above this ‘lake’ was a being that I will now do my best to describe: it resembled a gigantic and strangely proportioned fetus, with an enormous head that was vastly bigger than the body beneath it. Now that I think about it, this being’s brain cavity seemed to account for most of its body weight, that’s how out-of-proportion that the head was to the rest of the body. Its legs were miniscule and largely vestigial, while its arms were unusually long, with bloated hands and webbing in between its fingers. Its face consisted of two small black holes, while its mouth was a vertical fleshy slit, looking very much like a vagina. Its skin was of an unhealthy whitish-gray hue, and it was perched atop a large biomechanical surgical table (that was also levitating above the lake). Overall the being had an extremely sickly and withered appearance, bringing to my mind the image of a witch’s abortion that had, through some hideous transubstantiation, metamorphed into a sadistic demiurge.
“Jutting out from the bubbling liquid below this being were four enormous pointed towers that resembled the sinking steeples of drowned churches. The pointy tips of these towers were generating some kind of unholy electricity, with this electricity arcing from the tip of one tower to the others. Somehow or other, I perceived that these four towers were infernal desire machines, the reality generators that the enormous-headed fetal being before me used to create our own reality. I watched in amazement as the individual Entropiors used their fragile-looking wings to fly themselves towards the top of the floating being’s head, which proceeded to peel open like flower petals blooming. The Entropiors flew into the being’s brain cavity and vanished from my sight, though after a few moments they emerged from the being’s vaginal mouth and flew down towards the four pointed towers, where they then vanished into the electrical storm.
“It was at that moment that I realized I had uncovered a strata of reality that even the ancient Atlanteans, with all their wisdom, had been unable to penetrate. As I’ve already pointed out, they assumed that our reality was created by the Entropiors, and that the sole purpose in life was to function as a food source for them. But now I saw that the Entropiors were more like aphids, and that their true purpose was to drain energy from matter and ‘feed’ it to the being before me. The four towers, then, served as a gateway into the dream world generated by the mind of this being, the dream world being what we perceived as reality. The Entropiors used this ‘gate’ to enter our universe of matter, drain energy from anything they could find (be it human beings, animals, plant life, buildings, even the stars themselves), and then return to the higher reality, the void behind the rim of existence, to give the energy to their dark god. The Entropiors, when not engaged in this vampiric activity, would cluster on rocky platforms beneath the floating being, where they would then prostate themselves, heads lowered to the ground, and in this position they would wail prayers to the floating being, chanting its name over and over again. Because my ears were blocked up I couldn’t hear the word they were chanting, but I could feel it in my bones: and that mantra was ‘Abbalath.’
“I was now so overwhelmed by all of these alien sensations that I began screaming out for Igor, instructing him to bring the infernal experiment to a halt. I’m not sure what happened next as I quickly lost consciousness. When I awoke I found myself in a straitjacket in a mental hospital, with no idea as to how I had ended up there. Later on I found out that Igor had delivered me there upon the termination of the White Room experiment, where he had found me ‘raving mad.’ And thus began a period of lengthy convalescence.
“I know what you’re probably thinking at this point of my narrative: that my vision of the Entropiors and my glimpse into the infernal realm of Abbalath was a mere hallucination: that in my isolated state, deprived of all external stimuli, my mind had filled the void with its own terrifying content. And that’s what I had thought at first myself, during my time of recovery. I had gone into the White Room with the intention of ‘seeing’ the Entropiors, and I had seen them… but what if what I had seen was nothing more than a figment of my own deranged imagination, an illusion generated by my subconscious?
“It was around the time I was entertaining these skepticisms that I happened upon a most interesting article in a back issue of Fortean Times magazine. Contrary to what one may expect from watching movies, life in a mental hospital can be exceedingly dull, and I passed a lot of time by reading. This article to which I now refer to concerned itself with a mysterious individual known as Dr. Leroy Jekyll, who vanished under very odd circumstances in 1973. Little is known of Dr. Jekyll’s past, other than that he served onboard the U.S. navy destroyer escort USS Eldridge in 1943, when he had been around 20 years of age. That’s the ship that the US military supposedly used in an experiment to render it invisible to enemy radar via a cloaking device created by giant electrical generators, but I’m sure you already know about the Philadelphia Experiment and Project Rainbow so I won’t bore you with the details. Dr. Jekyll had some sort of nervous breakdown in late October of 1943 which saw him discharged from the military. Following this incident he began to display a peculiar fascination with the subject of Time. According to papers left behind after his disappearance, he believed that we’re surrounded by particles of time, which constantly eat away at everything, breaking down matter with toxins. He didn’t view time as some abstract concept, but as an almost vampire-like parasite that was invisible to the naked eye. It appears he stumbled upon the existence of the Entropiors without even realizing it!
“In the years preceding his disappearance, he became obsessed with the idea of stepping outside of what he referred to as ‘the Circles of Time,’ as a way of escaping from the captivity of the time parasites, which he was by then classifying as ‘the Time Vampires.’ When Dr. Jekyll disappeared in 1973, his family discovered hundreds of notebooks in his home, notebooks that were filled up with bizarre-looking illustrations and alien mathematical equations that, to date, no mathematician has been able to solve: it would seem that Dr. Jekyll’s notebooks are the 20th-century equivalent of the Voynich Manuscript.
“Perhaps Dr. Jekyll had found a way to escape from the shackles of time, the bondage of Kali… who knows? That doesn’t concern me. What did capture my attention was that the article included several photographs of some of the content of his notebooks. In one picture was an illustration of what he claimed the Time Vampires looked like: I’ve included a photocopy of this picture at the end of this letter so that you can see it for yourself. And Frederick, here’s the thing: it looked exactly like the creatures I had seen during my White Room experiment!
“It can’t be a coincidence… prior to reading that article, I had never heard of Dr. Jekyll and his time vampires theory, and I had certainly never seen that illustration before. It was at that moment that I became convinced in the existence of the Entropiors, or the Time Vampires, or whatever the hell they’re actually called, assuming they even have an official name. Their names are not important, what matters is that they do exist… that what I saw in that isolation chamber wasn’t just some mere hallucination.
“This left me in quite a bind. Even though I could no longer ‘see’ the Entropiors with my naked eye, I still knew that they were all around me, on me, even inside of me, going about their devil’s work. How could I possibly go on, knowing that existence was nothing more than a nightmare dreamed up by that dreadful and sickly being known only as Abbalath? Once again I was in the same existential quandary that had led me to conduct the isolation experiment in the first place, only now I had come to a dead end. Although I am an intelligent enough individual, I lack the sheer abstract genius of a Dr. Jekyll, who perhaps really did find a way to step out of the hallucination. I decided my only recourse was suicide. Once I complete the writing of this letter and mail it out to you, I intend to kill myself, perhaps by jumping off of a very large bridge, or sticking my head in a gas oven. Though now that I think about it, my uncle Aaron, who was something of a Japanophile, bequeathed to me an antique samurai sword when he passed away a couple of years ago, so maybe I can kill myself with that. I guess that killing oneself with a samurai sword is way more badass than jumping off a bridge, but then, I’ve never been a very good judge as to what’s considered badass and what isn’t. Truth be told, I feel silly just using the word badass.
“I’m stalling. Maybe because I know that this letter has almost reached its inevitable end. Anyway, that’s my story. As for the Yellow Notebook, I just couldn’t bring myself to destroy my life’s work, even though that life’s work has now led me to death’s door. So I give it to you: do to it what you wish. There’s a small part of me that feels a little guilty about telling you all of this, as I wish that I myself had never learnt about it. Though the more I think it over, the more I realize that it’s thanks to your insight about the ‘Flaw’ that led me to uncover these awful secrets, which led to my own dark awakening. So maybe this is my way of paying you back, old boy. Hope you’ll be able to deal with this knowledge better than I could. Well, it’s been fun, but if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a sword.
And there the letter came to an end. True to Bruce’s word, at the end of the letter there was a photocopy of one of the photographs from the Fortean Times article that Bruce had read. The photograph was a snapshot of one of the pages of Dr. Jekyll’s notebooks, and it contained a detailed illustration done by Dr. Jekyll of one of the “Time Vampires.” The creature had a gecko-like body, with green and black scales, while four wings sprouted from its back. Its head was notable in that it resembled the prostomium of the earthworm, utterly featureless save for a shrew-like mouth lined with extremely sharp and pointy teeth.
Yet, like Bruce, there was a part of me that was still skeptical. I wondered if this Bruce Kadmon guy was just some mentally disturbed individual who was trying to mess with my head. Maybe this Fortean Times article he mentioned didn’t even exist. Maybe he hadn’t even committed suicide and was still alive and well. For my own peace of mind, I decided to look into the matter. After all, when has blind trust been anything other than an intangible Pied Piper that leads young men and women to pointless deaths and early graves?
It didn’t take a lot of effort to find out that the Fortean Times article was authentic. And I just as quickly found out that Bruce Kadmon had, in fact, killed himself recently. His death had been big news in the local newspapers, on account of his unusual manner of suicide: he had impaled himself with an antique samurai sword. I must have missed this story when it appeared in the Thundermist Times, though how that was possible I don’t know. I tracked down these articles and learnt some more details about his life: how he had been born in Seattle, but how his family had moved to the New England area when he had been just a boy; how his father had been a Roman Catholic theologian while his mother was a professor of quantum mechanics; how he had graduated from MIT with a PhD in Theoretical Physics; how he had worked for many years at the Cedar Banks facility in Pittsburgh before he had suffered a nervous breakdown and was forced to resign, and so on and so forth. Apparently after this latter event he had begun devoting his life to filling up the Yellow Notebook with his researches into the lost religion of Atlantis.
Ah, the Yellow Notebook. Even as I finish writing this account I can see the accursed object resting on the surface of my desk. If only it had never crossed my path! I’m still not sure what I should do with it. I suppose I should destroy it, but it seems like such a shame, considering all the work that Bruce put into it. For now, I guess I’ll just leave it alone. What I won’t do is allow it to ruin my life. Bruce Kadmon may have been a brilliant man, but in the end, he allowed himself to fall victim to mad fantasies of Time Vampires and beings named Abbalath. He traded in his healthy skepticism for belief in absurdities. He claims that the Entropiors exist and are around us at all times but I think this is utter nonsense.
I did, however, have a slightly unnerving thing happen to me while at the hardware store yesterday. While shopping for some new shelves for my bookcases I found myself gazing at a pyramid of cans of white paint as if they were hypnotizing me, and I ended up wondering, in an absent-minded manner, while the Pink Floyd song “Time” played over the store speakers, if I knew anyone who’d be willing to give me an epidermal injection to the spine.
The Yellow Notebook
“The cancer of time is eating us away.”
-Henry Miller, The Tropic of Cancer
“Everything to do with time is hideous.”
-Robert Aickman, “The Clock Watcher”
“What destroyed Atlantean civilization? The sensible assumption
is, a series of volcanic eruptions, due to the fact that Atlantis
straddled the Atlantic Ridge, the great crack in the earth’s crust
from which molten lava still continues to seep. Then what of the
persistent legends that it was destroyed by black magic?”
-Colin Wilson, from his introduction to The R’lyeh Text