The Black Brain Mechanism
by John B. Ford

When I first dreamt that I would pay a visit and stay with my former friend, Doom, my mind had been ‘cloaked’ to the extent I felt no cause for alarm. In fact I found the whole idea most amusing. It was only later the next day, taken by idle reflection upon my previous night’s subconscious wanderings, that I realised it was not a good sign for one to dream so vividly that a visit (and stay!) with a person who had been dead for almost thirteen years was suddenly on the cards. The information concerning this forthcoming visit had been imparted to me, I recounted, by way of a voice which whispered sharply in authoritative fashion, informing me that my ‘friend’ Doom had gone on to take several metaphysical steps forward since we had last met, and would now like to demonstrate them.

The voice that had spoken (or whispered) to me, had done so while I had been enveloped in total darkness, yet somehow I had known that I was within a cold room with no doors or windows. This, of course, ventures the question as to how I had entered inside, but the absence of logic within the dreamstate is widely known, and deeper study will most certainly find it replaced with various forms of symbolism. Nevertheless, my memory of this peculiar incident within the subconscious had the effect that I felt not unlike I had been abducted. Had part of me not been taken from a state of peaceful sleep and planted elsewhere against my will? There was no denying that some element of my subconscious had been sown like a seed in the dark, and that it would now continue to grow rapidly towards the time when my visit to Doom would take place. Not surprisingly, the following days saw the ‘cloak’ that had so successfully shrouded certain areas of my mind, begin to melt away and reveal the imminent danger I was in.


Doom’s house, I now recalled, had remained empty since his sudden death thirteen years previously. This had been incorporated as an integral part of his will in regard to the preparation for the occupancy of the main benefactor. The complexity of this arrangement would be simplified by the natural passing of the years, his will had stated, and although this was not the usual procedure, the chosen one would then find himself taking up residency without the least objection expected from any other acquaintances of the departed.

Although Doom had never denied to us that he occupied the house, the fact there was no obvious door to make entrance and exit by caused yet more feeling that the building had been purposely constructed to defy convention. When questioned about this, Doom replied that he made entrance through the mouth of the house, as he enjoyed the thought of the house consuming him both mentally and physically. This process, he claimed, brought about a constant updating of knowledge, allowing a form of mental replication to take place within the brain of the construction. Despite his words of explanation, no-one ever saw Doom enter or leave the house, and so a general sense of distrust continued to grow.

The exact reason why the house should remain empty for thirteen long years after his death was never made clear to us in his will, although I had always believed its appearance and inner workings played some vital but surreptitious role in the scheme of things. The house itself (known to all as Nightmare House) was almost as bizarre in its appearance now as it had been during Doom’s living years. Thirteen days after Doom’s funeral, every inch of it had been covered by a black leather-like ‘mask’ that purposely obscured its skull inspired features. I must confess that a certain quality of unease was still present each time I looked at it, yet that was nothing compared to the quality of fear its visage had caused people before this ‘masking’ had taken place. At the same time I am quite sure the appearance of the house was not so much the instigator of the panic people felt, just the fact they knew what it was capable of.

Even now, on those few occasions when unwary people had wondered close to the house, they had reported sensations of unaccountable alarm accompanied by a form of numbness throughout their limbs, almost as though its dormant force, becoming aware of their nearness, sought some way to reach out to them. Other people who had known Doom in his living years continued to reminisce about his strange ways, or even attempted their own transcendent ‘autopsies’ of his mind. Dr. Vern, in particular, remained fascinated by the many forms of mental disease Doom had maintained afflicted him. He admitted to me that the in-depth talks they had occasionally held at his cottage (and which had mostly continued half the night) very often stretched his own comprehension when they concerned Doom’s theories relating to spiritual destruction and the constitution of Nightmare.

"What Doom really tried to convey to me," Dr. Vern had once said, "was certain advantages he believed could be brought about only by siphoning all the intelligence and needless reactionary emotion from the human mind. If the intelligence of a million men could be dispatched to a chosen processor; if those minds could be cleansed of what he termed their parasitic infestations before budding into life once more, then he believed we’d be in a position to delve deeper and explore new levels of mental and spiritual attunement."

It was clear that Dr. Vern still mourned the passing of Doom, at least in the sense that he could now never hope to decipher the formula needed to transcend his own limited capability of effectual thought. Yet I, who had been tuned into Doom’s way of thinking to a much greater extent, saw how fortunate the doctor’s lack of understanding had been for him. Despite this, I had grown wary of Dr. Vern and his enthusiasm for understanding the mind and doctrine of Doom.


A few nights after my first nightmare I fell victim to another of equal potency. I dreamt, with a terrible certainty, that my mind was being tampered with; that my thought-patterns were being skilfully directed to new areas that would somehow endanger my own sanity. Sweating profusely, I awoke in a state of desperate terror and remained sobbing into my pillow until my nocturnal distress eventually dissipated. Rising up from my bed, I walked through the darkness of my room to the window. Above and beyond the streetlights of town I saw Nightmare House, its masked outline appeared ominous against the moonlight as it stood high on Grieves Hill. The eyes of the house, just like the dead eyes of Doom himself, were now filled with darkness, and thus could turn only inward to explore new avenues of atonement for all the ‘disabilities’ that ‘life’ had once caused it.

As I stood looking at that forbidding construction, my thoughts travelled back to the time it had seemed as much alive as its own creator. Its ‘inner workings’ had made it feared by every occupant in the town, for even then its stored intelligence, created only to adhere to the mad schemes and radical ideas of Doom’s living brain, had sought to reach out and examine, manipulate and redirect, all the instances of human life its artificial eyes ever gazed upon.

Always during the small hours of night was the fear of the townsfolk at its greatest, for this was when the top floor of the house, that which everyone knew to contain the actual ‘brain’ of the building, began to seek out its victims. I remembered how the area representing the forehead, that which Doom had instructed to be fashioned from a new form of transparent building material, would suddenly light up in the dark with vicious flurries of green static. I thought of how the frontal lobe would then glow a deep crimson, and outward from the eyes of Nightmare House would shine what Doom referred to as its ‘soul lights’. These two beams of intensely bright white light would then illuminate their selected prey, immediately causing a total paralysis of body that would last precisely thirteen seconds.

As Doom always maintained that the ‘examinations’ which took place were completely harmless, and since those unwise enough to be outdoors at that time of night were mostly homeless vagrants, drug addicts, drink-addled youths, or any others divorced from the realm of respectability, this was said to be enough to make the anti-social behaviour of the house tolerable. Some people, I remember, even went so far as to say that Doom’s nightmarish creation was doing a better job of controlling the town’s undesirables than any usual form of policing could ever do. But the top and bottom of the matter was that the town’s respectable populace, being thoroughly united by their mutual fear, were receiving as one the subliminal warnings transmitted each night directly into their unconsciousness by the brain of Nightmare House. Deep down they knew exactly what the house was capable of, and they knew they were utterly helpless before it.

On one occasion, I remember, I went so far as to question Doom about the methods and ethics the house had recently employed. Instantly his face clouded and he became annoyed that I had even broached the subject. Yet despite his aversion, he did go on to mention something he referred to as the constitution of the inner eye, which from what I could gather was no less than the unfolding principles of a brain within a brain. "The Inner Eye," he tried to explain, "is in one way an intelligent receptacle crafted to store knowledge by gathering more than just cold data. At present it is a rapidly growing infant that constantly craves to be like me. It also worships me like a God. If in its development it shows an interest in minds other than mine, then what more is it doing than acting as I do?"

The nocturnal activities of Nightmare House were then to take on a more disturbing aspect still, when Mrs. Herm, the owner of Carnic guesthouse, claimed that several out-of-towners staying with her had complained about bright lights penetrating the curtains of their rooms, causing them to experience blinding migraines and even blackout. Mrs. Herm, not wanting to lose future custom, had listened to all their complaints with a sympathetic ear. Each one, she said, had confided in her that they felt an acute sense of loss, as though they had somehow been metaphysically mugged by an intrusive power that worked to a hidden agenda. One man, by the name of Hoyle, was a research scientist for a company manufacturing certain ‘heuristic’ building materials. Doctor Hoyle, as he was often called, had put it best when he said that his brain felt akin to a book which had had every page photocopied or scanned, and the resultant information then siphoned to a place of storage and careful dissection. This turned out to be the only time that Dr. Hoyle ever visited Carnic guesthouse, and though he had come to see for himself the innovative materials that Nightmare House was said to be built of, he had left without doing so.

"It’s as though my whole reason for being here has been turned around," he told Mrs Herm, upon leaving. "As if my knowledge and expertise has been shrewdly built upon by some other form of intelligence rather than my own, and to stay here any longer would force allegiance to a doctrine endangering more than my own sanity."

Shortly before Doom’s sudden death, it was noticed that many of those who had undergone ‘examination’ by Nightmare House, had begun to exhibit mental afflictions identical or similar to the ones he had, or at least claimed he had. Most noticeable of all were those vagrants who frequented park benches. Each one, it was noted, had shaved their head as though purposely mirroring Doom’s own hairless appearance. When questioned about this, they would reply that it was in order to ‘deflect the infestations of life’ which just happened to be the very phrase that Doom had used on many occasions. In retrospect it seems beyond belief that such a ludicrous action didn’t attract ridicule from the respectable townsfolk, and that mere vagrants were referred to as ‘Doom’s Disciples’ not in mockery, but as a dangerous group to avoid at all costs.

My initial friendship with Doom, which was inspired by our similar bleak outlooks on life, had caused many to quietly classify us as being ‘brothers’ of morbidity. Admittedly it must have looked that way to most people, but what they couldn’t see was the silent enthusiasm that touched us both while experiencing together a state of prolonged cogitation. Nor did they know of our zest for future life of a different kind, and the possible advantages to be gained by misplaced or redirected thought. There was no doubt that our two minds working in complete unification would soon develop the potential to stretch or destroy barriers which had before prevented complete spiritual replication, or even a controlled form of rebirth. Yet as the months passed by, my close friendship with Doom began to sour. I began to realise just how much of a puppet I was to him -- how all ‘our’ thoughts and plans were in effect only so much ‘grooming’ of my own mind.

Doom’s process of mind manipulation was, I realised, aimed at carrying us both far beyond the boundaries of ordinary reason and into highly contagious areas that would purposely spread his will like a most virulent brain disease. For the first time I saw how he had successfully ‘milked’ the inherent qualities of misfortune, and how he would undoubtedly go on to redirect that most potent force if his need ever required. My mind cleared and continued to focus until I realised the innate danger of Nightmare House, and how its regular night work as Doom’s proxy was in fact a subtle form of transposition which would ultimately unbalance and seek to nullify the whole town.

Late one evening, Doom turned up at my house in a highly agitated state. Evidently he had looked deep into my mind and found out that I no longer complied to his dark ideals and manipulative mode of thought. For what seemed like hours he spoke to me of his many concerns relating to the corruptive influences of morality, then went on to warn of the dire consequences which would be brought about by a negligence of real importance. Yet the longer Doom spoke to me, the more certain I became that he was utterly mad, and that I had been weak and foolish to be swayed so easily by one so obviously deranged.

When I eventually told Doom to leave my abode and never again return, his pale face instantly transformed to an expression of hatred. Yet within seconds he had complied with my wishes, storming from my house into the night, never slackening in his pace as he walked defiantly in the direction of Grieves Hill. Despite all this, I still felt compelled to observe his progress, and so remained gazing after him until his small form blended fully with the darkness of night. It was at this time when the situation suddenly became clear to me, and in that instant I knew he intended to utilise the full power of Nightmare House as an irresistible way to manipulate my mind. Unfortunately, Doom’s brain must have then been akin to an arena of chaotic thoughts and hatred so far removed from its usual state as to make his thought-process totally unidentifiable by any form of artificial brain mechanism.

As I remained gazing into the darkness hanging over Grieves Hill, my pulse rate quickened as I waited for what I knew was about to happen. Unlike Doom, I was not surprised when I saw the brain of Nightmare House light up with those green forks of vicious static, or when the frontal lobe of its brain began to glow such a dangerous crimson. Nor was I alarmed when I saw the white ‘soul lights’ of the house shine outward through those eyeless cavities and freeze Doom in their glare; or when, before thirteen seconds were through, he fell to the ground like a stone.


Although it was certainly noticed and attracted some attention, the body of Doom remained on Grieves Hill until midway through the next day. This was not due to any sort of attempt to determine the cause of death, but rather the fact that people remained afraid of being anywhere in close proximity, even though the body was unmoving and showed no sign of life. Some argued that physical stillness was a possible indication that the brain of Doom was actually involved in deep meditation, and so remained at its most dangerous. Others conjectured that he may have entered a comatose state, and if so it was highly likely he had established a stronger link with Nightmare House than ever before.

Only after news of Doom’s ‘condition’ reached Dr. Vern would people finally accept the truth of the matter. Following a thorough examination of the body, the doctor went on to confirm that death had probably occurred through heart failure due to severe mental stress and sudden shock. Even though he didn’t address me directly while imparting this information, something in the doctor’s tone made it clear that he suspected the involvement of another, and the fact that I was one of Doom’s few social acquaintances did me no favours. From that time on I never fully trusted Dr. Vern, especially when I saw the ease with which he instructed Doom’s shaven-headed disciples to carry their mentor’s body to the Holbrook Cemetery. I also took note that the doctor went on to direct the disciples in the building of Doom’s tomb, and the application he made to Reverend Cline for this to take place in a newly acquired area of consecrated ground (on a hill beyond the main churchyard) was granted without hesitation.

The tomb itself, which was built from grey gritstone rocks, was in fact a crude attempt to resemble the skull-inspired visage of Nightmare House. The exception to this was a cavity representing a mouth, which was left open in such a way as to allow Doom’s coffin to be easily slid within. One week after his death, I stood in pouring rain among the other ‘mourners’ at Holbrook Cemetery to witness the funeral of my former friend. No doubt the respectable townsfolk that showed up did so only to reassure themselves they had seen the last of Doom, and that no remarkable resurrection would take place before his body was sealed securely inside the tomb that resembled the skull-inspired visage of Nightmare House.

As rain fell from those heavy grey skies that morning, I thought back to how Doom and I had often discussed the insignificance of the physical body, and how on many occasions he had explained that the unification of his thoughts with another of equal potential would eventually lead to the door which opened upon hitherto unknown metaphysical dimensions. At that time, my mind had known only a feverish excitement causing me to hope with all my heart that the discarnate advances we continued to make would one day lead to such a state being attainable. How very different my views and hopes were now as I watched the absurd spectacle of Doom’s Disciples carrying that small coffin of his upon their shoulders.

During the time when Reverend Cline spoke his holy words and the rain fell from those heavy grey skies, I took note that the face of Doom’s tomb had been positioned to look away from Holbrook Church. Instead, its purposely chosen position high on that newly acquired area of consecrated ground, allowed its gaze to travel straight over the town and directly towards the grim visage of Nightmare House.


In the days immediately following the funeral of Doom, a tremendous sense of foreboding was experienced by the respectable populace of the town. How would the artificial brain of Nightmare House react when it realised it could no longer link with its own creator? The fact that it was now a free agent placed an incredible amount of destructive power at its disposal, and if the house should happen to conclude that it had failed to recognise, and so gone on to nullify the form of intelligence it had classified as God, then surely it would be seized by utter madness.

For a week after the death of Doom the house remained inactive, the transparent forehead never lighting at night, and the white soul lights never reaching out to stun and ‘examine’ any of the town’s undesirables. Admittedly one or two hopeful theories did surface: the house, realising its mistake, had rendered itself useless or entered a permanently comatose state. But for the most part the general feeling remained that something dreadful, or at least something unprecedented, was about to occur.

During this period of time it was noticed that Doom’s Disciples remained under the leadership of Dr. Vern. They had retreated to an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town, it was said, and were now carrying out Doom’s final wishes, which they claimed to have received after his physical death. The warehouse in question had, over the years, offered storage to many different types of goods, including large quantities of newly created textiles which would be allocated to certain remote towns beyond the border. With the eventual abandonment of the building, which was attributed to what some mysteriously referred to as a series of future hauntings, it became known as a place to be avoided at all costs, then quickly fell into a state of disuse and neglect.

The ‘style’ of haunting said to take place in the warehouse was unlike any other ever documented. It was claimed that each day a different member of the workforce would suddenly experience violent migraine, and this continuing to such a time when temporary blindness was suffered. At this point the man affected would begin to scream, not because of the shock induced by losing his sight, but by the sensation of what was termed a metaphysical hood being draped over his head. The feeling of entrapment which then followed would continue for precisely thirteen seconds, while in that time the blind eyes of the man currently undergoing this process would be made to see a future vision of his own dead self.

In exact contrast to the former workforce and the fear held by the town’s occupants, Doom’s Disciples seemed to relish the chance to work within the warehouse. They were certain this was the right place to carry out Doom’s final wishes.


When darkness fell on the thirteenth night after the funeral of Doom, the structure of Nightmare House showed renewed signs of activity. Although it has never been properly verified, a small number of the townsfolk claimed to have first witnessed a blood-red glow in the eyes of the house, followed by the slow opening of the mouth. What is certain is the quality of sound that emanated from the structure. Described by many as a soulless scream, its very essence was made worse by the fact it was an emulation of sheer human grief and hatred.

The volume and intensity of the scream carried through the very walls of the townsfolks’ houses to cause pain deep within their helplessly receptive brains, while those foolish enough to be caught outside at that time were afterwards to mumble, in their wild-eyed madness, of the soul lights beaming out towards the Holbrook Cemetery, and of the small fiery orb which then travelled down one of those light beams as though held in the grip of some powerful magnetism. The orb, it was said, was deposited inside Nightmare House via the open mouth of the structure, almost as though it had been eagerly devoured. But these were, of course, the claims of just a few men now said to be gripped by insanity.


The following day a small group of townsfolk paid a visit to the Holbrook Cemetery in order to gain an understanding of the previous night’s happenings. Once there, they found that the tomb so recently built by Doom’s Disciples had been destroyed, with the gritstone rocks used for the construction now scattered about the cemetery. These, they claimed, showed signs of damage from intensive heat and violent explosion. The decaying body of Doom had also not escaped unscathed, as the townsfolk saw when they gazed upon its decapitated state. Despite many misgivings, a thorough search of the cemetery was then made, although more a sense of relief than disappointment was experienced when they came across no sign of the head.


Later on that day, I watched from my window as a small group of Doom’s Disciples walked slowly in formation up Grieves Hill towards Nightmare House. At the time I did not know it, but the folded black burden they carried between them was that mask of preternatural design which they would soon cover Doom’s entire house with. During the next hour I observed more of Doom’s Shaven-headed disciples, this time being led to the scene by Dr. Vern, and between them they carried four wooden ladders which they proceeded to prop up against the house. The sky grew heavy and dark as Dr. Vern then went about conducting, what was for him, a very different kind of operation.


Raindrops blurred the view through my window by the time the black leather-like mask had been stretched over the grim features of Nightmare House. Nor was it clear to me why such a bizarre action had been taken, or what the eventual consequences would be of Dr. Vern following what he believed to be instructions transmitted from beyond death by the still active mind of Doom. Yet the act of masking Nightmare House in this way soon gained the full approval of the townsfolk, especially when Dr. Vern went on to make claims that the soul lights of the house would now be contained. This, of course, proved to be true, and yet there is no doubt in my mind that the brain of the house then sought to reach its full potential by use of positive internal methods, and of course time showed that it could still infiltrate the minds of the townsfolk by the inward frequencies it possessed. In effect the masking and the complete lack of distraction it had created was exactly what the house wanted.


A few days later I received a handwritten letter from Reverend Cline, stating that the body of Doom, albeit found headless, had recently undergone private cremation in Holbrook Cemetery. It was very much hoped, wrote the reverend, that this action would help bring about an end to the tragic sequence of events that had blighted the town so recently. The letter went on to say that as a former friend of the departed, it would be very much appreciated if I could attend Holbrook Cemetery at 8.p.m the following evening for the reading of the will. Upon reaching this part of the letter I was seized by sudden shock. It had never before entered my head that Doom may have made a will at some point. This was, perhaps, because his whole doctrine involved the continued manipulation of life beyond death, initially via a form of acquired metaphysical restoration rather than the absolute limitation of plotted thoughts.


As I entered through the oaken doors of Holbrook Church the following evening, I was made to pause by Dr. Vern, who whispered to me authoritatively that I should sit beside him. Gazing through the overly dark and incense-scented church, I noticed a small group of Doom’s Disciples occupying certain pews, although no other townsfolk appeared to be anywhere present. The face of Dr. Vern, even though lit only by vague lantern-light, was noticeably pale and gaunt, and as he spoke to me in his cold, whispered voice, I fell under the illusion that thin strands of darkness were stealthily reaching out from all the gloomy, unlit areas of the church interior, slyly attempting to fasten about his head.

His whispered words continued to flow, informing me about the will of Doom, and how it wasn’t the usual type of will at all, but had been ‘spoken’ into his mind only after the physical death of my former friend had taken place.

"Such a will as this is the first of its kind," whispered the doctor, "it transcends the formerly hopeless void of death, correcting misdeeds in the way a predefined will can never hope to."

"But why involve a third party in the reading?" I asked.

"The delivery by religious means is an act of balancing the scales, I think we all know certain things have occurred that need to be put right..."

A vague movement in the aisle over to our left put an end to the doctor’s whispered talk, and after a few moments observation, I was able to make out the sight of Reverend Cline as he walked towards the pulpit. Although my view was very poor due to the dimness of the church interior, his movements seemed abnormally jerky and artificial, reminding me somewhat of an animated puppet. As he stepped into the yellow glow of the lanterns that illuminated the pulpit, I was again taken by the illusion that I saw thin strands of darkness occupying spaces they had no right to. This time they appeared to have descended from directly above their target and had already attached to his head, hands, and feet. One of the strands lowered and hired as the reverend took a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket, placed it on the lectern before him, and in a voice that sounded dry and hoarse, began to read what was allegedly a proxy copy of Doom’s cryptic will.

In the darkness of a mind far beyond death, or with a billion icy words of vengeance, I could not hope to portray the desire I have to see the Chosen One take up residency inside Nightmare House. The spokes of misfortune will whirl for thirteen years before the unlucky gaze of jealousy green turns to the everlasting black of eternal death, and within this period the vital preparation for admission shall take place with growth springing from death. The end of this time shall simplify complexities gained of present, and the Chosen One shall take up residency without the least objection from those acquaintances of faithful allegiance. Transition will come with the dreamer’s awareness of death, then immediately will begin his dance to tunes of misfortune and misplaced thought, an enforced partnership by reversion to how things should have been! Forever and ever shall he sway only to the black seed of my will, tainted by the corrosive breath of sin, held tightly in the loving arms of Doom.


When the reverend had made an end to the reading, his body appeared to freeze in the manner of those affected by a sudden paralysis, while to my ears came a chorus of imbecilic giggles from the area occupied by Doom’s Disciples. Although Dr. Vern obviously realised there was something seriously wrong with the reverend, he rose to his feet and walked towards him in a very calm, almost unconcerned manner. For a few seconds I seemed to hear the words, "There’s nothing at all I can do for him now," being whispered around inside my brain. As I rose to my feet and began to leave the church, there came the soft touch of what felt like cobwebs brushing against my face.


A few days later I was told of the death of Reverend Cline, and how his naked body had been found sprawled inside the Holbrook Cemetery, purposely burnt black from the neck downwards. Although I had always suspected the reverend to be under the influence of Dr Vern, I then conjectured he must have maintained at least enough independence to deeply offend him by the private, and probably even unannounced cremation, of Doom’s decapitated body.


As the years went by I seemed to become immune to the fear once generated by the threatening tone and cryptic message of Doom’s will, instead falling prey to an illogical form of unconcern which somehow transposed the actual situation for me, purposely diminishing my tension as those thirteen long years fell away. Yet then, so very late in the day, the veil of restriction upon my mind suddenly lifted fully to reveal the eternal fate that awaited me with stark clarity, and I knew the forthcoming night was the thirteenth anniversary of Doom’s death.


It was during what I took to be the middle of that night when I woke to find my bedroom in total darkness. For a while I reached out and attempted to locate my bedside lamp, but suddenly remembering I had left it switched on and burning brightly, I became confused and worried. Seeking to reassure myself, I lifted up my hands to touch my face -- to find only nothingness. After a few seconds of rising panic I attempted to scream loudly, but discovered that my voice was also non-existent.

Eventually I had the notion that my death had occurred during the night, and so of course I now existed, disembodied, inside Nightmare House. How long it took me to arrive at this idea I do not know. There is no doubt that time becomes incalculable when one cannot die or has already entered a dead state, yet it seemed to me that my silent scream had continued for years. How many more years this rational form of intelligence and insanity would last was also beyond me, nor could I tell how long it was before I had my first experience of floating along what seemed to be a dark corridor of some sort.

Being drawn slowly along against my will and by some force I could not detect, I grew even more alarmed when I noticed, to my left and right, what appeared to be rows of oval-shaped screens the size of a man’s head. Each one of these, I saw, was trimmed around the circumference with emerald light, while about them hovered tiny sparks of blood-red fire that appeared to be under intelligent control, and so ignited in my mind the theory they may actually be responsible for the continued maintenance and ‘advancement’ of Nightmare House.

When I was moved further along the corridor by floating to a will that was not my own, there sprang into life above one oval-shaped screen, neon-lit letters that held some forgotten meaning. As I was moved closer, the screen beneath those letters suddenly glowed a deep green. At this same point in time I was afforded the knowledge that this particular ‘monitor’ had been assigned to me, and that the two neon-lit words floating just above it formed the very name I was once known by. I now understood that I had been directed, as one might say, to a prominent link with my former existence. Although this had obviously been done with a definite purpose in mind, I was still alarmed when my consciousness plunged through that oval-shaped screen.

Beyond was a narrow tunnel lit along its length by clusters of blood-red sparks, but this illumination appeared to be more a guidance in the way to Hell than any usual form of lighting. At the end of this tunnel, which seemed to me something akin to the inner barrel of a telescope, I saw a pale object that I could not properly focus on, and yet which evoked feelings of intense interest and growing fear. At this same time came the sound of a scream along the tunnel. Its origins were, without doubt, soulless, and instantly brought my view into focus to the extent I then gazed in close-up at the countenance of my own dead self. The mouth, I saw, had stretched wide in terror, and so of course I envied myself that scream.


When I was next taken along the corridor of oval-shaped screens by floating to a will that was not my own, I was taken aback to find that each monitor had been allocated its own neon-lit name. Many of these indicated people that I found I now remembered, so created the distinct impression in me that I was passing through a place of honourable memorial. Despite this I had no desire to gaze into the corresponding screens beneath those names, knowing perfectly well that their ulterior purpose was far darker.

All the screens and lettering, I noted, appeared to be made of the same transparent material that Doom had used to construct the forehead of the house, but in all those in-depth conversations we had held, never once had he mentioned, or even hinted, that such a dire monitoring facility as this had ever been incorporated into the building. The corridor narrowed as I was taken further along, though eventually opened out into what appeared to be a vast chamber, lit only dimly by flurries of green static. Despite this, the illumination was enough for me to determine that I had now been guided into the very brain of Nightmare House. Here, located in a position that I took to be the exact central point, I discovered the invidious image of the Inner Orb.

As four beams of white light cut through the dark in purposeful illumination, my sight fell upon a large callused eye over which a cataract had grown and was, I observed, now almost at the stage of being ripe for surgical removal. Towards this I was moved until my sight could be directed through the remaining slit in the cataract, then with a sudden stark clarification of focus, I looked directly upon the putrid head of Doom. It was, I saw, attached to a tangle of tubes and wires that appeared to have been drilled directly into the skull. On occasion the grey, rotten flesh of the face would spasm in pain as Doom’s incredibly faithful black brain mechanism attempted to extract more of the warped knowledge responsible for its own creation. Any lingering hope died in me when I noted other areas where flesh and bone appeared to have been surgically removed in a manner corresponding to the advanced theories and groundbreaking aspects of neoplasm that Doom had once put forward.


The enforced silence of the house eventually ended when there came throughout the brain a sound of whispering, seeming to me like a deathly replication of the voice once produced by Doom’s own vocal chords. It spoke to me of many things, including the schemes we would work on together for all eternity, and how a town full of dead dreamers would spread their nightmares outwards to infect all others in the manner of the most virulent brain disease. It told of how Doom’s Disciples were even now engaged in the Great Unmasking that would prime those nightmares, but I did not wish to hear of this fact and was grateful I would not see the event.

Nor did I wish to gaze upon the bones of a house where grey flesh grows to form an image of Doom’s dead face.

© John B. Ford
Courtesy by John B. Ford
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