If you follow my blog then you know that there are…WERE a ton of stories that I had started but lost interest in. Apparently, when I un-updated my computer OS from Win10 (POS OS that it is) back to Win8, I lost a LOT of stuff. I’m still finding out just how much was lost every day. Including a lot of the unfinished stories I had.
You can imagine my shock when I go to search something in Monster Squad 9 only to find that…I didn’t have the finished products any longer. All I had was my original draft. Luckily, I don’t delete emails so I found the edited version, but my COMPLETED copies? Nope. All gone.
Anywho, while searching through the numerous folders, files and drives that I keep, I discovered this little nugget. It was started in early 2015 and it was supposed to be a tongue in cheek addendum to the series. Sort of a MS 4.5…something that fit between the two sagas.
The premise was cute (I thought) with each chapter being the ‘Book of XX’ and labeled like the New Testament books of the Bible. You know…the Book of Matthew (Colonel Mitchell), Book of Mark, First and Second Books of John (Jack’s story), Book of Peters (Evan), Book of James, Song of David, Jacob’s Ladder, Sacrificial Lamb, Epistle of Paul etc. The whole thing was supposed to be clinical notes from a psychiatrist who was ordered to perform a psych eval on the unit.
Okay, it seemed like a fun idea at the time. Maybe not so much on retrospect.
Hey…they can’t ALL be good ideas, right?
Anywho, here’s the beginning of that dead story idea.
As taken from the taped notes of Dr. David Monteith.
I have to admit that when I was sent to perform these interviews, I honestly had no idea what to expect. My superior gave me an overview of the personnel I was to assess and for a moment I expected someone to jump out from behind a corner and yell ‘surprise’ or ‘gotcha’ or some other such nonsense. The very idea that grown men would… could believe in ghosts and vampires and werewolves and, well, just about every other creepy crawly thing that we’ve read about in fairy tales simply astounded me. Add to that the fact that these men not only believed in such things but hunted them? Let’s just say that I wasn’t looking forward to this assignment at all.
As I prepared for this task, I collected as much data as I could. No, I didn’t pack my daughter’s copy of Twilight. Nor did I pack my wife’s DVD of Dawn of the Dead. I did, however, research the special forces community to find out if, perhaps, mental illness was common among those returning from the battlefield. I’ll admit, I was skeptical. I believe that a large dose of skepticism is healthy, especially when dealing with any subject that touches on the supernatural.
As I prepared to board my plane, I realized that my carry-on luggage contained copious books and files on military, weaponry, special forces operators and tactics. Being a military field psychologist and not travelling in uniform with these items in my carry-on luggage was probably one of the biggest mistakes I could make. They didn’t look twice at my Military ID, and as I suspected, I was pulled for a ‘random’ search. I’m proud to say, I don’t have hemorrhoids. I also have a very clean colon (according to the very large TSA agent with the biggest hands I’ve ever seen). Oh, and I’m pretty sure I can cancel my proctology exam next year. Just a word of warning to others who might decide to fly in the future.
Thanks to my tight-assed superiors, I flew business class. It beat the military hops and I suppose I should be grateful that they even sprung for the flight. Still, the booze was on me. And I needed a double something after my thorough search. Seriously, you’d think they’d at least buy you a drink first. Or maybe pin you. Wait, do people still ‘pin others’ or have I just dated myself? Regardless, at $12 a bottle for those ‘shot sized’ bottles of booze, the stewardess…excuse me, the airline hostess cleaned my wallet of $60 and I still had to sit on one cheek at a time for the entire flight. When I asked for an extra pillow for my ass, she wrinkled her nose at me and told me that they were ‘fresh out’. Really? She was handing them out to others like E at a Pearl Jam concert, but for me and my aching sphincter she suddenly has none to spare. Remind me to cross her off my Christmas card list.
When the plane bounced across the runway (any landing you can walk away from, right?) I thought my lower intestines were going to fall out. But I managed to make it off the plane and then it hit me. Good lord, the humidity in this god-forsaken state is enough to choke a fish. You can feel this slimy substance start oozing from your pores and it isn’t sweat. No, sweat is simply salty water designed to evaporate and cool your body. No, this heat and humidity combination caused something else entirely. A greasy, oily mixture poured forth in such abundance that I had to forego the baggage pickup and run to the restroom to wipe off my entire body. It did no good. All I accomplished was smearing the grease around from one part of my body to another.
My superiors tell me to be ‘vague’ when I do these interviews. Don’t go into too much detail. We don’t want people to know ‘too much’. Don’t give enough information that others can figure things out. Okay. Fine. If you ever catch yourself stuck in this special layer of hell, right between Texas and Kansas, during the summer months, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. You can hear the air conditioners running, but they don’t stand a chance against whatever it is that is happening outside. Global warming? Too late. Global TOASTING.
Okay, enough whining. I’m off the plane and I’m in one piece. I should be happy, right? So, I’m going to do my best to have a positive outlook for the rest of this assignment. If I can handle this, I can handle anything. Heck, send me straight from here to Afghanistan or some such. From the looks of this place, I may already be there.
Bags collected and the guy they sent to pick me up stands out like a sore thumb. Dressed all in black military uniform and holding a handmade sign with my name on it. At least he was nice enough to help with my bags.
I’ll admit that the ride to the facility is uneventful. No monsters or beasties are seen, but there is an awful lot of nothing. Once we enter the gates, we travel past anything that looks even remotely interesting and wind through narrow paved roads until I’m sure we are about to exit the rear of the military base. Oh, but no, we stop beside what appears to be an old, somewhat rundown airplane hangar. I’m almost positive that my driver is trying to pull a fast one when he claims that we’re here and shuts off the engine. As soon as he does, the heat from outside immediately permeates the black sedan and I’m rushing to get out of the metal sweatbox.
I’m ushered inside and I’ll admit I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s at least 20 degrees cooler inside the metal building. Military personnel are hard at work doing whatever it is that they do and I’m escorted to a rear corner of the hangar. I am shocked when my escort leads me to a set of elevator doors. I wouldn’t have thought that there may be elevators in a hangar this old, but…
My next surprise comes when we step into the elevator and I see the rows of buttons. Judging by the height of the hangar, it couldn’t be more than maybe three stories tall at its highest, but there are a lot more than three buttons. When my escort punches the 3 button, I’m once more surprised to feel the elevator go down. Apparently, things aren’t always what they appear to be. My escort tells me that he’ll take my bags to my room and I’m met by the commander of this unit when the doors open. For the sake of this interview, I’ll only call him Matthew. He’s a very large and imposing figure, but there’s something more to him. He obviously isn’t keen on my being here, but it’s something that his superiors has asked for and so we’re both stuck with it.
Before I get too much farther into my initial impressions, allow me to explain a few things here. While it is true that I’m a licensed psychologist, and while I work for the military and am a commissioned officer holding the rank of Captain, I’m not exactly what you might call a stickler for military protocols. My primary mission is helping soldiers who have returned from the battlefield deal with their issues so that they can either reintegrate into society or be sent back onto the front lines. That’s it. I’m not a West Point graduate nor do I have any desire to make the military a career. In fact, once my graduate school loans are paid off, I’m out of here. However, with that said, while I’m here, I intend to do my job to the best of my ability. But now that I’ve been sent here to interview and ascertain the mental readiness of this particular unit? A unit of men who believe in fairy tales and play with high powered weapons? This is either the sort of assignment that could make or break me professionally. People who are this devolved into their own psychosis and have pulled others into it to the point that the United States government is funding their delusion? I could spend a lifetime trying to delve into their psyche and another three lifetimes writing papers about them.
But, back to the commander of the unit: As I stated, he’s a large and imposing man with a no-nonsense demeanor about him. It’s obvious he doesn’t want me here and it is far too early to tell if he is the key to the collective hysteria or simply a victim. Either way, I intend to find who or what the primary stressor is that has caused these delusions to take root. While I have yet to decide which method would yield the best results, I’m leaning toward a series of generic projective testing before delving into the possibility of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. From what I’ve been told, these men are all top notch, trained and well-disciplined operators from nearly every branch of service. Most, if not all, have gone through rigorous psychological evaluations and while it cannot be discounted that perhaps one or even a small handful could have slipped through the standardized testing, it seems nearly impossible that all of them could have gotten past the string of evaluations that they’ve been subjected to without raising at least some red flags. In all honesty, I question the validity of my being sent here.
The commanding officer takes me on a tour of the facility and I’m more than impressed. The sheer scope and size of the command underneath this unassuming hangar is staggering. Nearly everything that the unit could need, want or desire is contained within the underground facility. What little that isn’t is easily within reach of the personnel stationed here on the base itself. From what I’m told, the personnel rarely leave the facility even though they are free to do so at any time. Some may go ‘topside’ for fresh air runs or for outdoor training, but most find themselves content to remain underground. The occasional run to the Base Exchange or slip out for a movie isn’t uncommon, but rarely do the men stay gone for long. Their duties require them to be on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
One by one I’m introduced to others within the administration and the unit personnel. I’m even promised that I will get to meet a certain ‘contractor’ that is guaranteed to remove all doubt from my mind that ‘monsters are real’. So far, I’ve yet to snicker or belittle the perceived importance of the men or their jobs, but as the day grinds on, I find it harder and harder to keep a straight face. The unit personnel and their gung-ho attitude seems so misplaced in light of their perceived mission.
Having lost track of time, I’m escorted to my room and as promised, I find my bags waiting for me. Being underground, it’s quite easy to lose track of time and with the time change from the flight, it has grown late. I had a quick meal in the underground galley and was more than surprised at the amount of food that some of the personnel had amassed on their plates. Some went back for seconds and to be honest, it killed my appetite, although the food was quite tasty. Somehow watching grown men gorge themselves on what could easily feed a family of five or more and then go back and get more killed what little hunger I had.
Sitting alone in the concrete shell of a ‘room’, I’m actually surprised that it doesn’t feel closed off. The room is well lit, there is ample space and although quite basic in amenities, the bed, desk and chair are adequate for what I will need during my short stay here. There is a small shelf and bookcase at my disposal and a locker. Somehow, I’m reminded of Officer Candidate School. Except there I had a window and a roommate. And wood floors, polished to a high sheen.
First thing tomorrow I’ll begin my interviews, starting with the commanding officer and working my way down and through the personnel. While I don’t want to start out with any perceived diagnosis, as that isn’t really my purpose, I want to at least attempt to go into this with an open mind. Whatever is plaguing this unit, I want to do my best to help them in dealing with it.
Yes, the world is full of monsters. I need to help them in dealing with that fact so that they can better deal with reality.
Book of Matthew
Captain Monteith: “Colonel, I know that you aren’t too happy with my being here, but I promise you, this wasn’t my idea. I just want to do my job and get out of your hair as soon as possible.”
Matthew: “Right.” The Colonel seems stiff but somewhat relaxed in his office. He’s a well decorated officer and apparently a lover of coffee as he continuously refills his mug during the interview.
Captain Monteith: “So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? At what point, would you say, did you start believing in ‘monsters’?” At this point, the Colonel’s face hardens and he’s somewhat hard to read. I’d almost think he’s glaring at me.
Matthew: “I’d say around the time my family and I were attacked by one.” His voice sounds bitter and there is obvious hostility.
“So you were attacked? Physically?”
“Yes.” Definitely hostile.
“By a ‘monster’?”
“Did I fucking stutter?” Okay, beyond hostile. Time to back up a bit and play into the fantasy.
“Excuse me, Colonel. I meant no disrespect.” Time for a new tactic. “If you could try to see things from my point of view. I’m new to this whole ‘monsters are real’ thing. So, if you could just bear with me a little bit. Help ease me into this.” At this point, his features soften a little, but there is still hostility in the Colonel’s voice.
“It was my fault.” His face appears distant and it’s as if he is accessing memories that he’s long buried. “We had gone camping in the woods. It just happened to be a full moon. We were all attacked and I was the only survivor.”
“Oh my.” This was news to me. Regardless of what may have attacked them, this may have been the trigger. If Matthew is the primary for this collective hysteria, and if this account that he’s telling me is true…
“The worst of it is, they didn’t even want to go. I more or less persuaded them to.” His voice is quiet now. His sadness seems genuine.
“So you blame yourself for what happened to them?” This question may be too soon, but my time here is short. If he can’t deal with the reality of the world, then the reality of this attack and his perceived guilt won’t matter at this point.
He nods his head, almost imperceptibly. “It is my fault.” He’s avoiding looking at me as he recounts the events. “I thought that if we spent a little family time together that it would help draw us together, make us closer as a family. Instead, I got my family killed. I have no idea how I survived, but I did.”
He didn’t snap or go off into the deep end, so to speak, so I push a little further. “At what point did you realize it was a ‘monster’? During the attack?”
“No, it was too quick. I never even really saw the creature. Just hair, a flash of teeth, claws. Then blackness.” He takes a short pause either to gather himself or to recollect his memories. “I came to in a hospital and the docs kept saying I shouldn’t have lived. Then my wounds started healing faster than they should have. They detected a virus and thought maybe I was contagious so they isolated me while they looked into it. What really threw them for a loop was that I didn’t have any symptoms. No fever, no sweats, no cramping or…nothing. At least, not until the next full moon.”
“Then what happened?”
“I shifted.” When his eyes met mine, I actually felt a shiver. My god, this guy is good. He almost pulled me into his delusion. “Lucky for me, I was in the isolation ward. Nobody was hurt. But a lot of people saw what happened and it was filmed. Otherwise, I might not have believed it.”
“And then they had to make a decision. Either dissect me and figure out what the hell, or…”
“Or put together a team of the best that we had to offer and start hunting down these ‘things’ that we now knew were real.” He seems to be relaxing more and his stature is less stiff. I can still tell that he doesn’t want to be talking about any of this. “Somebody high up got in touch with other governments and found out that a lot of them already knew. They already had teams in place. We sort of flew by the seat of our pants for a while until we decided to take a look at how some of the other teams were run. After a few years, we all sort of got together and picked and chose the best of each groups and sort of made it a standard.”
“So you’re telling me that other governments have monster soldiers too?”
“Monster Squads. They’re called Monster Squads.”
“Okay, so Canada and Mexico and…”
“No, we cover northern Mexico and Canada. We have a pretty broad coverage.” Okay, that really shocked me.
“You’re telling me that a foreign government gives permission for armed U.S. military to enter their land and, what? Fight monsters on their behest?”
“Yup.” At this point, I’m almost speechless.
“And I suppose European countries have similar programs?”
“Yup.” Why am I not surprised?
And that was as far as I got. Nothing spectacular, but it was the idea of emulating the books of the New Testament that had me thinking it would be a fun project. Now you see why the story died.
May it rest in peace.