The Storms of Old
Retrieved from the personal blog of the late Amit Thakur, erstwhile reporter of the Indian Chronicle.
Chapter 1: Gathering
15th June 2018
Of late my visits to Professor Roy’s house have been less frequent. His Saturday evening gatherings of like-minded people were something I looked forward to attending, however, the nature of my work and bizarre timings have kept me from doing so.
Today when the invitation chimed on my email I made up my mind to attend in spite of being ill-disposed elsewhere. The gatherings, I noted, had not altered much in my absence. The attendees had grown a good number but the somber atmosphere remained unchanged. Professor Roy kept himself busy in welcoming his guests, some of whom were other reporters, literary figures, and even scientists.
Professor (Dr.) Digendranath Roy was the dean of physics and planetary dynamics at the S.N Bose College, a best-selling novelist and a strong voice of dissent against the current regime. My friendship with him dated back a good score and some years during which I have always found him to be a most resourceful, humble man capable of great depths of wisdom. His gatherings, for that, was the word he preferred, were a network of like-minded prominent individuals who discussed everything from politics to modern sciences and even philosophy.
When the usual round of introductions was completed I found myself in a room full of strangers save for three people: The Professor himself, Dr. Anandi Chatterjee, a research scholar of the Indian Academy of Neurosciences, and Colonel V.K Singh.
“A reporter?”, the Colonel growled inquisitively over his drink as I shook his hand.
“I suppose you want to know what happened to my son?”
It was true, I was curious. I knew the Colonel only by reputation since some days back his son Major Swaraj Singh, a distinguished astronaut returned from mars, had killed himself.
The news had made headlines since the Major had survived a frightful sandstorm in the scarlet planet and brought back himself and his team, earning countless awards and accolades for his bravery. His suicide thus came as a shock of disproportionate stature for the entire nation. It was rumored that the late Major had suffered from incapacitating anxiety in the days leading up to his death. His father, the retired Colonel had taken to the papers blaming the current regime for “hushing up” the matter and the events that caused the death of his only son. Presently however he seemed rather perturbed by my profession and it took some convincing from our host to placate him.
“Well I suppose I owe it to him to tell what really happened …mark my words it wasn't no suicide that killed my son", he ended with a roar. The room fell queerly silent.
"Two and a half months back my boy came back from that accursed planet. He did his duty, nothing more and nothing less. When the quarantine ended and the press tours and award ceremonies were over he was allowed to come home...And he did, but something, something changed in him. When I saw his face, Oh God! That face. It was the face of a man who had seen the Devil himself.
In the days that followed he locked himself in his room, barely coming out to meet anyone or talk to any living soul. Sometimes in the night, I would hear the gasps and screams of a haunted man with the voice of my son. The servants who took food and other necessary amenities to his room reported to me that he had stopped bathing and cleaning himself. I asked him multiple times to open the door and let me in but the cries and howls that followed lesioned my soul. Finally, a doctor whose friendship and discretion I trusted most intimately accompanied me in the quest of barging into his room.
It took both of us and two servants to restrain him as the good doctor administered a strong dosage of nerve relaxants. The fiendish horrors he told us in hushed mania altered the very fabric of my reality. It was the sandstorm he faced on that extraterrestrial land that was the inception of such pertinent nightmares.
It was no ordinary storm but an abomination of cosmic proportions enough to induce lunacy even in the sanest of individuals. The raging tempest it seemed possessed a mind and soul of its own. Its form and appearance so grotesquely alien that no human tongue can reproduce an accurate visage.
My son had endured far more than any other individual had in the history of our species and the strain had begun to deform his mind greatly. He could only tell us of how the thing had communicated with him in its own perverted tongue and how the knowledge of such an encounter further divorced from sanity. Upon asking the full extent of such knowledge he simply shook his head like a child repeating the phrase :
"We are them. They are us".
In the end, his suicide came as a mercy to him and to those of us who had to keep the fortitude of watching him slip deeper and deeper into the endless ocean of madness.”
Though none of us in the audience remarked on the incredulous absurdity of such an account we secretly assigned a similar measure of lunacy to the Colonel as he had done to his late son. The rest of the evening passed on with starkly more rational discussions and straight thinking debates. The Colonel sat quietly with his drink not indulging in any further chatter with anyone else.
As the gathering drew to a conclusion and I rose to make way for goodbyes and parting words, my mind wandered to the singularly ruinous account of the Colonel.
What strange occurrence could unhinge the rigorously trained mind of an astronaut so thoroughly that he should seek respite in death.
"We are them. They are us".
Chapter 2: Wildfire
21st Aug 2018
This evening I had called upon Professor once more at his house. I had not seen him since the bizarre encounter at his earlier gathering in June and truth be told, it was more out of concern but I paid him a visit.
A few days back, I was informed of the Professor's aggravating health by some of his well-wishers. He had been acting quite peculiarly since his return from a conference in California. Such was the extent of this sudden development that he had stopped teaching and even hosting his gatherings altogether. When multiple calls and emails yielded no answer I decided to investigate the matter in person.
The bedraggled state of his chambers provided a stark contrast to my memory of the gatherings he once hosted. Volumes of papers and notes filled with illegible contents and scribblings resembling no human script lay on the floors. The Professor himself sat in the dark mumbling broken sentences and syllabus with feverish deliberation.
Determined to know the cause of such an acute delirium, I began inquiring persistently. The Professor paid no heed to my interrogation or to my presence in the room. He broke from his hysterical mania only when I offered him a glass of water to placate him.
"No! Get that damn ..... no water.....get it out of my sight", he shrieked in desperation slapping the glass out of my hand.
I crouched at his side to obtain a better vision of his state. His immaculate profile had grown grizzly with a mane of hoary unkempt beard. The tranquil blue eyes of his danced with frantic horror in the dark depths of his sockets. When he finally spoke it was with a voice so low and horror-stricken that my skin crawled with nervous suspense.
“Last month I went to California. Wildfires...
There were wildfires that scorched great acres of land and the conference had to be called off. One of our colleagues, a speaker.... can't recall his name ...can't recall any names. One of our colleagues had wandered adrift on his way back from the hotel. A search party was formed ... Some other speakers, volunteers, faces with no names... We made for the woods.
I trailed back marvelling occasionally at the terrible grandeur of nature.The flames ... Oh the flames they swayed in magnificent glory devouring trees and vegetation with satanic rapture.
And then and then...
I looked ahead to find the search party was no more visible, the terrain around me had changed to a conflagration of titanic proportions. It was a whirlpool of infinite entropy dancing fiendishly around me.
These are no words, no sound nor language that holds the capability to honestly describe the waves of the primordial terror that seeped into the very marrow of my bones.
It ... It talked to me, in its own grotesque tongue.
Oh, the terrifying tales ... the damned scenes that crept from that monstrous maelstrom, revealing the dark history of our actual origin... our purpose.
The horrors! The horrors it showed me. There is no escaping them, no hiding in blissful forgetfulness from those shadowy secrets of the primal universe... They are... they...
Oh, nature! Oh! The terror!”
He concluded his account returning once more to disarrayed whispers and murmurs. I rose from the place with the solemn realization that there was not much left of the great mind of Professor Roy to salvage.
The only merciful thing to do would be to inform an institution of his precarious state and start his treatment with utmost urgency.
As I turned to leave the Professor held my hand with surprising strength and agility. The wild blue eyes looked straight into mine. When he spoke it was with disturbing calmness.
“They are us. We are them.”
22nd Aug 2018 9:30 p.m
It seems like a distant memory when I wrote of my encounter with the Professor. The sinister course that recent events are taking are tragic enough to obliterate even the happiest memories from the mind.
The Professor is dead. I have just returned from the police station having recorded my statement. The officer in charge knew of my intimacy with the late Professor and disclosed to me some of the gruesome details of the case.
It seemed that the Professor had taken his own life in the most frightful fashion imaginable to the human mind. To begin with, he had peeled off his own face with a kitchen knife. This should have produced inordinate measures of agony in any sane man, but the Professor did not stop there. He used the same instrument to claw open his insides with hateful deliberate stabs of a man possessed.
This was the manner in which Professor Roy, my once-beloved friend took his own life.
I cannot write any further. It pains me to think of the cause that would plant such a seed of hatred of one’s own skin in a man so rational.
22nd Aug 11:00 p.m
It seems reality is distorting itself in the form of some barbaric asylum filled with violent inmates. An hour ago a video clip went viral on twitter. I had retired to my chambers in great grief and mourning when multiple calls and emails coerced me to open the aforementioned clip.
It was a clip rather poorly shot in a cell phone camera. The man in the video was unmistakably Colonel V.K Singh. He was running in circles on a terrace roaring strange profanities towards the pouring heavens. There was a shotgun in his hand which he occasionally pointed at the skies shouting: “You can’t scare me... You don’t scare... I am nothing like you... We are nothing like you..”
This act of lunacy went on for what seemed like a minute before the unthinkable happened. The Colonel placed his shotgun straight underneath his chin.
Not much of the skull remained when he was done. The rest of the body swayed pointlessly in the indifferent gale before slumping onto the ground.
I cannot write. I cannot think. I do not know if I will sleep tonight.
Chapter 3: Origin
5th Nov 2019
Today I found myself attending the funeral of another dear friend.
Dr. Anandi Chatterjee is no more. Although the timing of her death is deemed natural, the surrounding circumstances are shrouded in a veil of mystery.
The heart attack that killed her in her sleep must have culminated from the terrible anxiety attacks she endured for the past month. These attacks, her son said, had started ever since she returned from Sunderban having faced a category 2 thunderstorm during her visit.
The events turned even more uncanny when myself and a few of her colleagues received an email from the Doctor journaling her last thoughts. I do not know what to make of the email. To believe in its macabre contents is to throw away the very fabric of reason that shapes our life. I am attaching the email to this blog post so that my readers may glimpse a fraction of the madness that has now besieged my conscience.
SUB: Regarding the events of my death.
To whoever reading this,
The fact that this email is now released means I have already died. Through this email, I will attempt to journal a theory suggesting the cause of my demise and those fiendish deaths that have haunted the scientific community for the past year.
I will not however indulge in describing the other-worldly horrors presented before me when I found myself trapped in the vortex of the category 2 thunderstorm - Rani. We had just reached one of the more populated islands of Sunderban when Rani hit us. Some of my co-passengers lost their lives in the maelstrom, some went insane from the paramount incomprehensibility of the events and some like me survived and tried to pursue the thread of reason only to be lost in this infinite labyrinth of looming terror.
Persistently navigating the scarce residue of information regarding the beings led me to a vague and wholly conjectural explanation of their provenance. The beings, raging clusters of chaotic exothermic reactions, storms as we unwittingly refer to them are not simple weather phenomena as we make them out to be.
Of their exact origin and causality I am yet unsure but this much I know:
They are beings far older than us or any other life forms that we know of. They are capable of thoughts and actions that can shape the vast territories of the existing universe. Our ignorance and a false sense of superiority have often assigned a passive role to the occurrences of nature. We have believed, foolishly for centuries that to live is to exist in forms only we know of and acknowledge.
These dark, primordial forces of old have long dwelled in the Universe shaping it to their will. The beings even attempted a session of communication in their own chaotic language with me.
The primeval knowledge that they imparted is impossible to recollect without losing the last dregs of sanity that I have so carefully preserved. I know now, that the attempt shall catapult me into dementia, yet it must be done. It is imperative to the human race, to our existence that I recollect that blasphemous encounter.
In the course of creating frameworks for artificial intelligence, we sometimes look to the patterns inherently present in nature and various species that inhabit the earth. Such patterns give us structures for performing repeated calculations that converge at a suitable point of our interest. In the creation of these algorithms we sometimes craft simulations of species, agents that through mock evolution and behavioral dynamics yield the desired result.
I find this a most suited analogy to our own existence as modeled by these primal beings. These storms, raging forces of chaos have shaped the Universe, planets and even micro-habitats to create models of life forms. They have provided inputs, consistent changes in nature, and our environment to model us, life as we know it. The very fabric of reality that we know and seek to understand is a derivative of their will. Even the Darwinian model of origin that we scientists seek comfort in is a byproduct of eons of shaping and structuring the world by these omnipotent watchmen.
We are mere pawns, agents of the gigantic cogwheel that serves the unfathomable computations of these dark forces. But this is not the extent of the horrors. The communication ventured further, deeper into our own place in this machinery.
The scientific discoveries, the revelations that we marvel, and pride ourselves on are the bricks that shall build the very edifice of our doom. As these gods of entropy have shaped and created us, we too must in turn create lesser beings. Equations and algorithms that are capable of intelligence but far removed from free will. This is the intended route of this world's advancement. They spoke nothing of the reason or cause of such machiavellian slavery that continuously spawns lesser beings.
Indeed such is the nature of their alien knowledge that it challenges the very notion of ‘alien’ and ‘human’. I know that this email may result in the loss of my credibility and besmirch my reputation as a scholar. Yet I cannot make way for death or allow my spirit to surrender without having written this account.
I conclude here with the hope that the community may find this of some use in the coming days that are to be filled with darkness and destruction of unforeseen dimensions.
Good Luck and Godspeed.
- Dr. Anandi Chatterjee
Chief Research Officer
Indian Academy of Neurosciences
Chapter 4: Madness
23rd Nov 2019 3:00 p.m
Raindrops continue to tap on the glass pane. The incessant knocking. They seek to enter my house. They seek to enter me...
23rd Nov 2019 7:00 p.m
I feel it is my duty to document my last night no matter what unholy revelation has poisoned my mind. This night shall be my last night, of this much at least I am certain. Either the unknown gods shall come for me or I shall end everything to spare myself the torment. It is therefore best that I utilize this rare interval from insanity to chronicle my narrative.
The rational world was quick to label the death of Dr. Chatterjee as ‘an unfortunate loss of a brilliant mind’. Her account and theories were laughed at and forgotten by the media.
I found myself incapable of pondering about anything else other than the similar circumstance surrounding the passing of so many of my colleagues and friends. I thought at length of the supreme beings described by Dr. Chatterjee. I studied ancient cultures voraciously trying to decipher how the storm gods appeared consistently across all civilizations. The more I delved into this recondite abyss the more it terrified me.
Eventually, I took a sabbatical from work spending great trenches of time in solitude, growing maniacal with each passing day. Even the most graceful sights and alluring aspects of nature seemed perverted with the newfound knowledge of their true origin.
It is deeply disturbing to completely grasp the fact that one’s own life is puppeteered by abominable forces whose true intent remains shrouded in mystery.
My phone beeps with alerts of an approaching thunderstorm. There are texts from nameless contacts.
- Take shelter ASAP.
- DO NOT stay in the open.
- Are u safe? Find a cover.
There is no taking shelter. The storms...the beings. They are us.
I look at my hands barely suppressing an overwhelming urge to peel off my own skin and be done with it.
We are them.
23rd Nov 2019 9:13 p.m
The knocking continues... Great gusts of frantic winds howl outside my window. The storm rages on. They shall not enter this house.
But they have entered. They have been here since ages.
Inside my house.
Inside my mind.
Inside my skin.