Saturday, June 28, 2014

LRH: The Target 2 Chronicles, Chapter 16, "On The Seventh Day"

  Ron thought that if he was going to keep running into his own fictional characters, he'd really rather have them be adventurers like Ol' Doc Methuselah or Johnny Goodboy Tyler, not these two fawning monuments to the man he never was. Tom Esterbrook was the name he'd given an academic author he created to review his own books, glowingly, of course. He was really glad Sid wasn't here to raise one of his judgemental eyebrows.

  "What should we do next, sir?" Esterbrook asked, looking about anxiously.

  "Let the man breathe, egghead!" snapped Snake. "Go make yourself useful. See if you can find some shelter, it'll be night soon." Snake took of his bomber jacket and pulled out a tin of tobacco, stuffing some some into his cheek as he surveyed the situation.

  "I . . . I'm afraid that I really don't know where we are, Commander Thompson. I'm not too sure how I even got here, to be perfectly frank." While the thing known as Esterbrook was fully sentient, he had no memories of anything beyond a few hours before, when he had found himself among the group of Commodores Messengers looking for Snake. "Maybe some of these girls might be a better choice?" he offered pleadingly.

  "Fercrissakes, grow a spine!" Snake barked at the tweedy gentleman, who looked like he might burst into tears at any moment. "Oh, never mind." Snake spit some tobacco in disgust and turned away from Esterbrook. "Girls!" Snake barked to the messengers attending to Hubbard. "You! The tall drink of water, yeah, you honey." The tallest CM peeled away from their master to huddle with Thompson who was kneeling with a stick. He drew a map in the dirt, "Alright babe, you take two girls with you and head this way, send the other two in this direction, and see if you can find some shelter, or at least some dry burnable wood. We'll need some warmth come sundown." 

  "Yes sir! I'm on it!" The Messenger took two girls aside, they met for a minute or so and then began to fan out in search of supplies or cover.  

  Snake turned toward Hubbard, who was still surrounded by a wall of white hotpants and halter tops. "Lemme through ladies, lemme through!" The messengers parted obediently. He kneeled next to the supine Hubbard whose head rested in the lap of a Messenger. "What's it gonna be, Commodore? What are your orders, sir? You've gotten out of tougher scrapes before."

  Hubbard had been receiving what he assumed were touch assists from his messengers. Unlike the touch assists he'd received in life, these were actually doing something, delivering zings of electricity into his body. He felt much better than he had just a half an hour ago when he was pulled from the crumbling compound that lay smoking in the distance. For a brief moment, he let the bitter irony sink in that Scientology seemed to actually work here in this strange reality, but then again, everything he'd ever made up, no matter how ridiculous, seemed capable of coming to life here. He sat up with the help of a messenger. And speaking of things he'd made up, Snake still gave him the creeps, but he figured he'd better make the best of things. For a fictional character, the guy really got things done.

  "So, what's the situation, Commander?" Hubbard asked with a tone of theatrical gravity.

  "The enemy is nowhere to be seen and the castle is in flames. The car is a total loss and we have no food or shelter. We're in a field surrounded by forests on three sides with a stream and low hills on the other. It could be a cold one tonight." Snake ended the report by putting another pinch of tobacco into his mouth. He proffered the tin to Hubbard.

  "Uh, no thanks, Snake. You have any of the smokeable kind?" The Commodore was getting to his feet, he felt better than he had all week.

  "I think you have some in your boiler suit, sir." Thompson gestured toward the breast pocket of Hubbard's tattered, gray overalls.

  Sure enough, he could feel an unopened pack of Kools in his pocket, but, of course, no matches. He looked toward the burning wreckage of his son's citadel. He was thinking that he could walk over and get a light there. But, just as he was thinking this, another large section of the smoldering structure collapsed. He would need another plan. Ron held the cigarette at arms length, but remembered what happened last time he tried this. He would do it differently this time. The Commodore concentrated on lighting it, but nothing happened. 'Relax old boy, use command intention' he thought to himself. He let his arm down, held the cigarette as if he were smoking it, and said "light," with a casual air.

  With that, one of his messengers stepped forward with an elegant, silver lighter and lit his Kool.

  "Well, that worked pretty nicely." He took several deep drags and let the menthol saturate his lungs. With the instant comfort provided by the cigarette, his mind cleared and he found another idea was hatching. He concentrated for a moment, then relaxed and said with nonchalance, "where's my car?"

  The CMs froze in place for an instant, followed by a buzz of activity as the girls passed looks between themselves, almost like they were calculating. Then, they parted to reveal a 1975 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham lumbering across the field with a messenger at the wheel. She wore a white chauffeur's uniform.

  "Well, that's more like it, don't you think?" Hubbard muttered, mostly to himself. He walked up to the car as the gaggle of nearly identical girls vied to be The One to open the door. "Ladies, ladies. No need to fight over me," Hubbard said grinning widely. The winner opened the back door of the silver car and Hubbard snugged down into an interior overflowing with burgundy velour. "Ah, she's just like I remember her." The huge Cadillac was exactly like the first car he bought for United Churches of Florida, and it remained one of his favorites.

  "Well?" he looked expectantly at the young woman who opened the door. She looked at him curiously. "Close the fucking door already!" 'Is she deaf or stupid?' he wondered to himself. Esterbrook looked gobsmacked, wearing a 'what about me?' expression.

  Once the door was shut, he lowered the window and gestured to one of his messengers. "You! The one with my smokes. Get in front. Come on! Let's go, chop, chop!" He wanted to put as much distance between him and his two golems as possible and everyone seemed to be dawdling. The young woman slid into the front passenger seat as Hubbard said "Driver! Window! Now!" His window slid closed immediately.

  "Alright, Leadfoot Lucy, let's get the hell out of here. Take me back to my hotel, the one I woke up in last week, I have some papers to go through." And with that, the chauffeur slid the gear lever into D, and launched the big Caddy back across the meadow toward the road that had once led to Nibs' fortress. He thought about looking back on the odd group waving goodbye in the field, but thought better of it. "They're not even real." he said.

  "Oh, I am so honored to have even been in his presence. What a humanitarian—a towering genius." gushed Tom Esterbrook as he watched the car making its way to the access road. He was sorry to not have been included in the great man's plans, but after all, he was just a lowly scribe and he knew it. What he didn't know is that he was about to turn off, forever. He popped out of existence, as did the remaining CMs, one by one. That left Commander Thompson alone in the meadow, hands on his hips, looking around with a satisfied expression. "My work here is done" he said with noble grit. "The great man is safe. I suppose I'll be disappearing, too." But he didn't. There were evidently other intersections for him to explore. There was a man coming toward him waving. The rather animated gentleman was walking from the direction of the burning ruin. At first, Snake couldn't quite make out who it was, then he noticed the cigar and black spectacles. A smiled spread across his face in recognition, knowing that he was in for quite the stimulating conversation. If nothing else, Sigmund always had the best cigars.

  The silver Cadillac wafted along the road as it wound its way through the heavily forested foothills of . . . well, wherever they were. The sun had set behind the towering hardwood forest and the sky was a beautiful, deepening violet. "So, driver . . . do you know where we're going?" Ron asked stubbing out his cigarette in the ashtray. Cigarette girl was already dispensing his next, pre-lit Kool over the seatback.

  "Yes sir!" she replied crislpy. "We're going to The Bulgravia Arms Hotel in R6 City. We should be there in a few hours, sir."

  "Right, right, but where is that?" he said taking a drag off his latest smoke. "Where are we? I think I was in Pennsylvania yesterday, so where am I now?" Ron asked, in genuine confusion. If he was going to get the hang of this place, he'd have to learn all of Sid's tricks.

  "It's hard to explain, sir. It involves local hyper-duality and eleven-dimensional, intersectional quantum 'branes. The physics is quite daunting" the driver said trying not to sound condescending.

  "Try me. You know, I was quite the physicist at one time . . ." as usual, when referring to his imagined expertise, the smugness was palpable.

  "Well, sir, I'll try" said the driver. She then launched into an exquisitely detailed explanation of what she called multidimensional, poly-quantum, dual-field physics, complete with elaborate formulae that seemed to involve more Greek letters than numbers. After about ten minutes of being totally baffled, Hubbard put his hand on her shoulder, "Thank you dear, thank you. That's, um, uh, very interesting. Good to get caught up on the latest stuff. I see what you're getting at there. Yes, yes, the quantum foam coalescing and so on, and the uncertainty. Yes. Very interesting, indeed." There was a pregnant silence. Finally he said. "How about you turn on the hi-fi and we have some nice music?" He'd had absolutely no idea what what the driver had been talking about and hoped she couldn't read his mind like the others had. The Messengers did seem very loyal after all, but they might be sniggering behind his back. He'd have to keep an eye on them.

  Then Cigarette Girl said "The radio? You want music? I'll get it". She rummaged around in the glove compartment for a bit, then turned up the volume. There was music alright, but it was horrible. A sort of thumping, dissonant jazz that sounded like it was recorded at the bottom of a very large barrel.

  After a few bars he barked "Turn it off! Good God, what the hell is that supposed to be? Whatever it is, it's not music."

  "Uh, well, that's . . . you, sir" said Cigarette Girl timidly. "There was a tape of your album in the glove box. I thought you'd want to hear it." She ejected the 8-track and handed it to Hubbard.

  "Let me see that . . ." he said snatching the tape from Cigarette girl. 'Apollo Stars' it said on the huge cartridge. God, it was his music after all. "Oh, right, well I was just kidding, you know. We had quite a time out there on the old Apollo, quite a time. We were very avant garde. Very modern, and so forth . . ." he said unconvincingly. An old saying ran through his head, 'The gods punish us with answered prayers.'

  They rode on in silence for an hour or so when he felt an odd vibration on his thigh. It felt a bit like the touch assists he'd been given by the girls back in the meadow. There it was again. It was something in  the zippered pocket on his thigh. It was the phone that Alisa had given him. How did it get there? He pulled it out of the pocket. It had stopped buzzing, but there was a box that had 'Missed Call' written in it. He remembered about the thing inside the phone, Surry or whatever its name was. He remembered how Alisa had taught him to summon the thing and held down the only button on the otherwise featureless face of the phone. There was a chime.

  "What can I help you with?" asked Siri.

  "Uh, hi there, this is . . ."

  "Ron Hubbard. Yes, I know who you are. What can I help you with?" the phone queried.

  He thought she sounded slightly annoyed with him.

  "Well, I, um, let's see, someone called me just now?" he was flustered.

  "That was a call from an unknown number, there was no message" the disembodied woman said in her vaguely nordic accent. She seemed to put the wrong emphasis on most syllables. Strange.

  "Oh, so, no message from Sid?" he asked hopefully.

  "S. G. Lokavid is offline, would you like to leave him a message?" said the phone.

  "Uh, sure, okay." she made him really nervous, like he was doing something wrong.

  "Okay, leave your message at the tone." There was a silence then a beep.

  "Well, uh, Sid this is Ron Hubbard and I was, uh, wondering if you were . . . well, what are you doing? Is everything okay? Will I be seeing you sometime soon? Okay then, uh . . . bye now." Was he supposed to press a button or something. He hit the only real button again and the screen went blank.

  The messenger in the front seat was watching him. She whipped around when she realized he saw her staring. "Oh, don't worry about it. I don't know how the goddamn thing works either."

  She smiled sheepishly and they rode on in silence for a while. "A fresh Kool, sir?" she asked proffering a cigarette.

  "Don't mind if I do".

  She lit the cigarette in her mouth and passed it back to Hubbard who made a sour face. The girl looked mortified. "Oh, I'm so sorry Commodore. I don't know what I was thinking." She lowered the window and threw the offending smoke out, a tiny, brief meteor in the gloaming. She handed him a fresh cigarette and he used his cigarette lighter in the armrest to light it himself. She looked miserable.

  "Oh, don't worry about it" he said. "Just don't let it happen again." He winked jovially. He was back in a good mood again, the feelings that constantly battled in his head were quiet now. He stretched out in the backseat and smoked in a moment of relative contentment. When he felt expansive and important, he loved to spin tales, and so, he told the girls stories. Stories about his past, his barnstorming, his years at George Washington and his time in China. He even threw in some past lives and exteriorized explorations of space for good measure. He must have been talking for two hours straight, when suddenly there was an explosion from the right front of the car and the tire began to deflate. The chauffeur pulled over skillfully, bringing the listing luxury car to a stop. They were still in the woods, but it was less hilly and a bit more open. There were fireflies darting about among the trees, lending the scene a magical quality. What wasn't so magical was the high, chain link fence with razor wire along the top of it running with the road as far as he could see.

  The chauffeur and her lieutenant got out of the car to appraise the damage. Hubbard lowered the window, the night was muggy and humid. The girls headed around to the back of the car and popped the trunk open. He could hear them rummaging with tools and the spare tire. What was taking so long? Couldn't they get on with it?

  Annoyed that he hadn't thought of it earlier, he figured he'd try some more of his newfound powers. "Wait a minute girls. I've got this, I think." He concentrated on the tire being inflated and whole then, in his best conjuring voice, said "repair." He closed his eyes and waited a few seconds, then stuck his head out the window and yelled for the girls to check the tire.

  The driver came back to the window and said, "Nope, still flat Commodore. We'll get the tire changed in a jiffy. You just relax."

  He sat back and sulked. Why didn't his powers work the same way all the time? He stubbed out one Kool and lit another, as Cigarette Girl had given him the pack upon exiting the car. After a few minutes the driver returned to the window, her face had fallen. "I'm so sorry Commodore, but the spare is flat, too." 

  He tried his newfound power over MEST a few more times before giving up in disgust. "What the hell good is this voodoo if you can't use it all the time?" he raged, "Goddammit!" He was exasperated and tired.

  Cigarette Girl tried to sound positive, "Well, this fence must belong to something, we'll follow it up a ways and see what we find, you stay here in the car, sir. And lock the doors." 

'Some hero you are' Hubbard thought to himself as he watched the scantily dressed Messengers slowly vanish into the night from the safety of his velour cocoon.

  He sat there for what seemed like an eternity. It was probably only an hour or so, but it made him nervous to be out there alone. He pulled out the phone, maybe the Surrey thing would keep him company. He pushed the button, but nothing happened. It wouldn't even light up. "Battery must be dead" he said to the night. Well, at least the doors were locked, so he settled into the heavily draped fabric and eventually dozed off.

  Hubbard awoke with first light. The windows were all steamed up. He wiped the condensation away. He could see quite a ways down the road in both directions. No sign of the girls. He had an odd thought, he still couldn't get used to never having to take a piss. That was such a morning ritual. He actually missed it. Such a strange place, this was. He was stiff from sleeping in the seat, and thought he'd better get out and have a look around, maybe he'd have more success in the light of day.

  The sky was threatening rain, but still, it was pleasant enough, balmy and humid. The girls had walked in the direction they had driving when the flat happened, so he figured that wasn't the best way to go. He decided to follow the fence back the way they had come. Maybe they'd been so enmeshed in his sagas that they missed some landmark in the dark. He'd been walking for about fifteen minutes, when he came to a gate in the fence. It was quite large with stone and brick pillars. There was a brick guardhouse and the gate was wide open. Nobody was there, but at least there was civilization. There was another inner fence with barbed wire along the top of it and groups of brick buildings in a large compound. These gates were also wide open. Was this a military base? There were no signs on the buildings, just numbers.

  "Hello! Is anybody around?" he called. Nothing. The wind was picking up now, there was the crack of thunder in the distance. He thought he'd better get inside. He tried the door of the nearest building. It was open. He headed inside past a lobby with a thick, security glass window. Nobody home. He turned around to leave, but now the door was locked. He'd have to find another way out. There was another door to the right of the window which was open, but it made him nervous. It led further in the building. He stepped into the next room and there was a sight that made his blood run cold. It was sliding iron bars. This was a cell block. This was a prison. There was another loud thunderclap and he could hear the rain start to come down.

  This place gave him the fulll-on creeps. Something was up. This all meant something, but he couldn't remember what. What he did remember was terror of confinement. Hubbard had gone to great lengths to avoid incarceration in his lifetime. His last ten years on earth were more or less spent in hiding. He thought of the poor bastards locked up in tiny cells like he'd seen in the movies, but this wasn't quite like that. It was more like a dormitory or a hospital ward. No bars on the cells, just metal doors. The rooms were empty, but immaculate. Someone had to have been cleaning them. He looked down the long, broad hallway. All the doors were open. He heard nothing. Saw no one. He had to find a way out, so just kept walking down the hall. It was nothing but room after empty room. As he walked, his sense of foreboding faded with each vacant chamber. 

  Just as he was feeling more relaxed, there she was. She was sitting in a metal chair, at a metal table, wearing her Sea Org dress whites, reading a very dog-eared HCO Manual of Justice. She looked up over the book with the saddest expression Ron had ever seen.

  "You never even wrote me a letter," said Mary Sue Hubbard.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

LRH: The Target 2 Chronicles, Chapter 15 "The Son Also Rises"

Ron (the senior's) stomach dropped a few floors as the bulk of the Psychlo started to make a move toward him. Ron (the son) put his hand up ever-so-slightly and the huge space beast froze in place. It let out a disturbed, deflating sort of sound from its face plates, beady eyes fixed on its prey.

  "Don't worry, he won't hurt you. He's just my . . . helper. This won't take long." Ron DeWolf adjusted his glasses and limped forward unsteadily. He clutched a cane in his left hand to steady him on his false leg. He advanced toward his father.

  "Do you like our little place here? Not bad, is it? This is from my imagination by the way, not yours" he said with a mixture of anxiety and bitterness. "Other people have imaginations too, you know. Other people can make things up." More intensely now, "Do you like what I've made up for you? Do you Pop?" Ron DeWolf had been waiting for this moment for what seemed like an eternity. He'd had a lot of time to think. To make things up to his heart's content.

  "Nibs. Son. I . . . I think we can talk about this like . . ." but Hubbard was interrupted.

  "Nibs! Nibs? 'His Nibs' is what you call the spoiled child! The pampered brat. How dare you call me that! Better you call me Rover or Fido, 'cause that's what I was from the word go, your dog, your servant. Your means to an end. I can't believe what you put me and Alexis through, your cast-offs. Did it even occur to you to ask how I died? About my well being?"

  The father struggled theatrically to talk "My nose . . . it . . ."

  "Your nose? Fuck your goddamn nose! I've been trapped here for 23 years, planning for this moment, so I'm gonna make the most of it . . . 'Dad'."

  Senior's stomach growled loudly.

  An exaggerated look of pity any mime would have been proud to produce washed across Junior's face, "Oh, no! Daddy's hungry!" He turned to the vertical shag rug behind him. "Terl. Daddy is hungry, what should we do?"

  The fur covered slab shifted back and forth on its huge feet and let out another series of wheezing noises through its faceplates. Was it excited? Angry? Senior had never really thought about it before, the face was basically expressionless, he hadn't really thought about how a Psychlo would express emotions.

  "What was that?" Junior said theatrically, "We should feed him?" Nibs spoke to the monster like it was a giant toddler. "What a good idea Terl! Go get Daddy some food . . . lots of food. He looks real hungry." His face lost all expression as he finished the last sentence. He turned back to his captive and put on a new expression. Senior couldn't tell if it was a smile or a grimace.

  Junior adjusted his glasses and got nose to nose with Senior. He was seething with rage now, "Well, it looks like it's just junior and dear, old Dad. Together again. Just like in by-gone days." He made a motion as if he was going to squeeze his father's ruined nose. Senior winced in anticipation and a calm smile spread across Nibs' face. "I wouldn't do that, daddy. I'm not you." With that, Nibs turned away and walked into the shadows to the left of the door. He threw a switch and searing lights blazed down from above.

  Hubbard the senior gasped and winced again, as though he'd been physically struck. The light, emitted by a grid of twenty, buzzing halogen lamps hanging at 2 foot intervals, was blinding.

  "Oh, my, but those are bright!" Junior began patting his lab coat pockets dramatically. "Where are my goggles? Why, I can hardly see" he said as though he were acting in a bad junior high school play. He found a large wrap-around pair of sun-glasses and fit them over his black framed spectacles. "There! That's much better. But, poor daddy, I bet that's so bright for you . . ." he was making the universal 'so sad' face that a normal parent would made when their child skins a knee.

  Senior was shaking now. He really never knew this kind of fear in his living years. Paranoia yes. Fear of retribution. Yes. He'd braved a few bad storms at sea, but nothing like this. This was a real, visceral, gut-churning fear. This was about feelings. This was about emotions, his lifelong nemeses.

  That he'd been a bad father was an understatement. Absent, self-absorbed, vain, arrogant and prone to rage, he knew that his children had no love for him. Especially Junior. He knew exactly what he'd put Nibs through over the years, especially since he'd blown Scientology. The disconnection. The dead-agenting. The subtle dirty tricks guaranteed to make his life and the life of his offspring a living hell.

  Through his squinted eyes, he could see that Nibs had now walked around behind him, and his anxiety spiked again. "Is that too bright for my poor daddy?"  Then, sudden blackness as a plastic bag was pulled over his head and tightened around his neck.

  Unable to move and in terrible pain, the panic was unbearable. He was hyperventilating and just as he was about to lose consciousness, off came the bag, and inches from his face, a face so like his own raged, "That's how I felt every fucking day around you. Suffocated! Choked! Strangled! I would be a big hero one minute a worthless piece of shit the next depending on what drug you were on, or what your crazy, fucking brain was doing!" Nibs backed up to catch his breath, unsteady on his prosthetic leg. "And Mommy! What you put her through, you cowardly piece of shit! All your wives! Hell, every woman you fucked and fucked-over! Be glad that Lexie is still alive, or I'm sure she'd be here with me, tag-teaming your sorry ass!"

  Hubbard the elder was actually relieved when he saw that the hirsute giant had returned, pushing a cart bearing an overabundance of what appeared to be haute cuisine. On the crisp, white tablecloth were a dozen platters of food, a frosty pitcher of ice water, four cartons of Kools and a pristine ashtray.

  "Oh, Daddy. Look what Terl has brought you!" said Nibs with a flourish. "I hope you enjoy . . . looking at it." He was trying to look serious, but a nervous giggle burst out, unbidden. "C'mon big fella, let's let Daddy enjoy his treats."

  And with that, Nibs and his hulking friend left the room, the door sliding back into place behind them. The light would have been bad enough, but Hubbard was also hungry and thirsty. Then there were the smokes. Even through all the chaos since he'd left his flophouse in R6 City, the need for nicotine was never far from front and center. Surely this was just the beginning of the torture. He'd really stepped in it this time.


  Mr. S. G. Lokavid came-to in his apartment on the 35th floor, overlooking what any living person would swear was the San Francisco Bay Bridge. He knew the drill after he'd survived several "deaths" here in the afterworld. It was always like waking up from a dream. A really, really awful dream. The memory of the fire and his burning flesh was all too real to him, but the details were a fog. Sometimes they actually were dreams. It took corroboration from someone else to prove otherwise. When you were revived from an incident, you were always restored to wholeness. Sid was as he had been before, tall, handsome and thirtysomething, lying naked in his huge bed overlooking the simulacrum of the bay. He stretched and thought about getting out of bed. He remembered a strange man from the dream, and he remembered some trouble. It was all sort of fuzzy. Were the memories of the last few days part of a dream or memories from the continuum? This would require tea. He looked to his left, and there on the sleek wenge side table was a steaming cup of darjeeling. Maybe the man he remembered was real and actually was in trouble. Well, whoever he was would have to wait. The journey of a thousand miles begins with tea . . .

  Nibs watched his father, by turns desperate and fulminating, on a huge screen from his lab on top of his compound. He'd had years to think about how he would get his revenge on that fat bastard. From time to time, he worried that the plotting and planning would make him deranged, unhinged like his father. Immediately after his own death, he was visited by his grandparents. They showed him great affection and sympathy. They showed pictures of their farm in a very lovely universe 'just next door' as his grandmother put it. But he couldn't go there yet, he had to engage his father in order to be released from this place. Evidently there were rules. There were always rules. He hated that. It was out of the frying pan into the fire as far as he was concerned. This afterlife business was for the birds. It was just another org. More rules. More bullshit. But there was an upside. Sometimes, when you really focused, you could make almost anything happen.

  The trouble was, the more Nibs watched his father struggle and fret, the more awful he felt. He hated violence when he was alive, though he was forced into it on many occasions in the service of Clearing the Planet. He was a creative at heart, and that heart hurt watching the man who had so abused him and his siblings in life. This wasn't what he'd hoped for. It wasn't fun. He felt empty. After everything he'd been through it came down to wanting one thing: for his father to love him. And with that realization, his rage and anger sublimated to grief and loss and with that came a deep, mournful sobbing. Wave after wave of pain and release. After a while he felt a huge hand on his shoulder, it was the inhuman creature he'd created to scare his father, it had crouched down to make itself less threatening. The creature's facial vents whistled softly as it stroked Nibs' back. Terl's face couldn't really express emotion in a readable way, but the care expressed in this simple touch made Nibs cry all the harder. Monsters were more loving than his own father.

Many hours had passed and Hubbard the elder was delirious, but through his delirium, he could see and hear the large metal door when it began to slowly slide upward. His son walked in the doorway, his furry companion shambling just behind him. But something was different. He looked younger than he had before and he was walking normally, without a cane. He looked almost excited. "Ron. Dad, I think I finally get what it is that I . . ." But before he could finish his sentence, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, Jr. vanished into thin air.

  The hulking creature that had been the son's constant companion for more than two decades let out a sound like a low steam whistle. He looked around for a moment then he too, disappeared. The crazy, mad scientist sound effects fell silent and Hubbard could hear nothing but his own heartbeat drumming in his ears. "Nibs! Goddammit Nibs, what the hell am I supposed to do here? You fucking little bastard! Nibs!" His voice echoed dramatically in the room and long hallway beyond. He was trapped. Utterly and completely trapped.

  He struggled. He pulled. He strained until his flesh was raw where the chair held his wrists and ankles. Exhausted, he began to cry in sheer frustration. "Open!" he screamed at the restraints.

  And open, they did.

  Ron struggled to his feet, his injuries from the crash were healing, but his body was in agony from thrashing for god knows how long on that metal throne. He lunged his way across the room to where Nibs had turned on the lights. He found the switch and the sudden darkness seemed almost total at first. His eyes were semi-blind from the glare. Then he turned to face the food cart that had tormented him so. It was still there, but the food had all gone bad, the stench was awful. At least there were Kools. He ripped one of the cartons open and inhaled the fresh, menthol smell. But there were no matches. Well, he'd gotten the best of the locks when he put his command intention to work, so he tried commanding the cigarette he'd placed in his mouth to light, but nothing happened.

  "Sonofabitch" he muttered to himself. He tried again, this time holding the cigarette at arms length, focusing his attention on it and saying "fire!" Something happened this time. Something was burning, but it wasn't the Kool at the end of his arm. He could see a flickering of firelight coming from the hallway just as the smell of smoke reached his nose. "Well, that's not good" he said to nobody in particular. He looked out into the hallway only to see a wall of flames coming toward him from his right. That left straight ahead or left as his only options. He chose straight ahead and made a run for it.

  His body ached in all kinds of ways, but fear does funny things to a person. He found himself in a four way intersection of impossibly long hallways. The decision as to which way to go was made for him as the halls on either side of him burst into flames. He ran until he came to another junction. It was the same  wall of fire on either side, and now the flames were behind him as well. The smoke was getting serious now, and breathing was difficult. He kept moving and all at once the hallway opened into a cavernous great room with large windows that must have been fifty feet tall. He thought he'd break one to escape but he miscalculated their scale. As he reached them he realized that they began some 20 feet above the ground. His one hope was the two-story, wooden door at the end of the chamber, but when he reached for the iron handle, it was locked and wouldn't budge. The fire was now emerging from the hallway and was climbing the huge tapestries that hung on the stone walls. It leapt from one to the other roaring up to the timbers that made up the ceiling.

  L. Ron Hubbard was about to give up hope when he heard it, a crash against the door. The great door shook. There was a muffled revving of an engine, a screech of tires, and once again the door shook, this time splintering and buckling a bit more. He heard an ominous crack as the flaming timbers of the ceiling began to give way. Sparks rained down from the clouds of smoke above as one by one, huge chunks of the former ceiling crashed to the stone floor. There was one final crash and the door broke into flinders and in with the brilliant light of day came the very smashed snout of an orange Rolls-Royce driven by one Snake Thompson. Once again, the man Hubbard invented stood through the open sunroof and yelled "get him girls!" Before he knew what was happening he was surrounded by his Commodore's Messengers, who ushered out into the fresh air. The last of the passengers in the now burning car escaped and the crowd moved quickly to put distance between themselves and the now fully engulfed complex.

  There was a huge fireball as the car's fuel tank ignited, turning the front wall of the towering facade into a pile of rubble.

  "Looks like you owe me one, you old sonofabitch!" laughed Thompson who pushed his way through the crowd of fussing, fawning messengers to clap Ron on the back heartily. Then, behind Snake came another man Hubbard didn't recognize. He was bearded and dressed neatly a tweed coat with patches on the elbows and a wool cap. The unknown man approached Ron with awe and deference.

  "Oh, Dr. Hubbard! Dr. Hubbard! This is an honor, a complete and total honor!" said the nattily dressed stranger.

  "I'm sorry, but do I know you?" asked a decidedly confused Hubbard.

  "It's I who am sorry, I should have introduced myself, but I'm sure you'll know my name. I am Tom Esterbrook, and I am your loyal servant."

  "Great" Hubbard muttered to himself, "another one."

Monday, June 09, 2014

LRH: The Target 2 Chronicles, Chapter 14, "Trouser Snake"

  Even though he had recently met Jesus, Mao, Joan of Arc and was currently riding around the afterlife with Avalokiteshvara himself, Ron was officially freaked out by the grinning man chomping on a cigar emerging from the orange Rolls-Royce.

  There, coming right at him, larger than life was Commander 'Snake' Thompson, just as he had always described him. Problem was, he was a fiction. Like so many things in the ripping yarn that was his life story, Snake was a fake. He was a compilation of a few interesting characters he'd met on voyages with his parents when he was in his early teens. The long ocean crossings he made were fairly tedious and Ron's mind never sat still for a minute. As he had always done, he would just make up characters to keep himself company. However, that wasn't usually the end of it. Thrilled with the imaginative discussions that he'd have with his phantom friends, he would regale real people with his exploits with his "friends" as if they were fact. He always felt more important with an interesting story to tell, and the truth be damned.

  Sid was staring at him now, one eyebrow raised expectantly. "Won't you introduce me to your friend, Ron?" he said slyly.

  "Oh, for god's sake Sid, go ahead. Tell me what a big, goddamn liar I am, let's get it out of the way. What's next? Will good old Snake tell me to be glad I had so few followers? That can't be too far off, can it?" Hubbard turned and started to walk back toward the barn where Jesus had taken Fred. 

  "Ron Hubbard, you'd better not be turnin' your back on your old pal Snake, now!" boomed the apparition of a life-long lie. "Hell, you turned out to be quite a renaissance man Ron! Aviator! Navigator! Map Maker! Physicist! Adventurer! Musician! Philosopher! I knew you were special when I met you on the USS Grant in, what was it? 1923? You beat me at chess every damn night on that tub!"

  "Why, Mr. Hubbard, I didn't know you played chess. We really must have a game some night." Sid's tone was coy. He turned his attention the Snake. "Commander Thompson, I am Mr. S. G. Lokavid, a recent acquaintance of our friend, here. Ron has gone on at length about you and your influence on his precocious mind."

  "Well, I'd certainly met my match in the boy, let me tell you. Barely a thing I could teach that one. Well, there was one thing, I recall . . ." Snake made the universal sign language of jacking off as he said this, only to break out in a braying laugh. "Aw, come on Ronnie, everybody does it! Am I right, Sid? Am I right?" Howling at his own joke, he was now elbowing a grimacing Sid in the ribs.

  "Quite right Commander, the lure of the lingam is universal." said the Buddha.

  Hubbard continued toward the Tesla wishing his reanimated id would just shut up. He reached the car but the door handles that would emerge automatically stayed flush with it's sheet metal.

  "Ron, you're going to need this. It won't open without it. Catch!" Sid threw the black key fob to Ron with amazing accuracy. 

  The fob landed in Hubbard's hand perfectly. As he caught it, the door handles slid smoothly out from their bays. He pocketed the tiny homunculus of the Tesla and got into the driver's seat. "Come on Sid, we're getting out of here!" he barked. "Now!"

  Sid and Thompson looked at each other in astonishment. Snake looked a bit crestfallen that he wasn't exactly given a hero's welcome. 

  "Look here, Commander. I'm sure he'll warm up to you. Do you remember how you got here?" asked Sid with genuine concern.

  "Uh, well, I was . . . in that car there . . . I think. I can't say as I remember how the hell I got there though. Little skinny fellow in the back seat with me kept rattlin' on about how 'anybody that gives you a belief system is your enemy' and suchlike. Strange little fellow, that." Snake trailed off, he looked lost in thought.

  "Well, Commander. He's gone off that way with his well armed ladyfriend. I do believe they're going to have a bit of a do with quite a few interesting people. It could be fascinating . . . from a purely psychological perspective, of course." Sid placed his hand on Snake's shoulder as they walked. "Ron's still a bit high strung from his trip here. It was harrowing." 

  "I can only imagine. Storms. Gunmen. Scorpions. The guts of that guy are really something else, eh?" Thompson looked to be a bit in awe.

  "Oh, yes, Commander. He has some kind of gut's alright. I'll give him your fondest wishes. Do enjoy yourself tonight." And with that he sent the somewhat bewildered golem off to whatever Osho and friends had in store for him.

  "So, then Ron. Where are we off to?" Sid said settling into the bullet peppered passenger seat. Don't you think we might want to find a place for the night and get the car fixed?"

  "Look, Sid. I just want to get the hell away from that . . . thing. How does . . . I mean, what the hell is he? You know I made him up, right?" Ron was visibly agitated.

  "Are you afraid of who you might run into here? I don't blame you. You had quite the imagination." 

  "I just feel . . . I feel . . ." Hubbard struggled for his words.

  "You . . . feel? Yes?" Sid looked at Ron like a parent with a child on the verge of his first step.

  "Oh, never mind. I'm so goddam hungry I could eat a skunk's asshole." Hubbard had totally switched gears. 

  Sid's face dropped. He sighed and composed himself for a moment. He was really hoping for a breakthrough. "Well, then, on that appetizing note, let's see about finding a place to stay. Then we can get a bite to eat and get this poor thing fixed up a bit, shall we?

  "So, how does this thing work again?" Ron looked at the key fob. It was shaped like the car, but featureless. 

  "There's no key. You just push the start button, there. That's your gear selector, and the car will let you know how many miles are left in the charge. Do you know where we're going?" asked the light of Asia.

  "I haven't a clue. That way." Ron said pointing down the long drive to Jess's compound.

  "Good. I love an adventure" Sid added enthusiastically. 

  And with that, the car slid silently down the drive and into rays of the late afternoon sun.

  After about ten minutes of driving toward downtown Nazareth, Hubbard pulled over onto the shoulder and turned off the car.

  "What's all this about?" Sid asked lightly.

  Hubbard just stared straight ahead.

  Was he going back into his loop again? It certainly wasn't common, but Sid had seen it more than a few times in the two millennia he'd been in this place. The recently deceased leader overwhelmed by coming face to face with the misdeeds of a lifetime. It happened. Hubbard did seem quite disturbed by running into a living, breathing example of his own compulsive imaginings.

"Ron, is everything alright?" the Buddha asked a little more forcefully.

  Nothing for another few minutes, then "My grandfather . . . Lafe. I always . . . I always."

  "You always? Always what, Ron?" Maybe this would be the breakthrough Sid sensed was coming.

  Hubbard turned to Sid with a look of near panic, "With my grandfather I alway felt . . . " There was the rising roar of a diesel engine and a sudden, sickening impact from behind. The car shot forward and into the trunk of a huge lyriodendron, buckling the front of the Tesla past the front wheels. Everything went white. Multiple airbags had deployed, filling the car with limp fabric and mist from the propellant. Hubbard's head slumped toward the wheel, his nose dripping blood down his shirt. He was unconscious.

  Sid could hear the ominous clattering, roar of a diesel behind them, it's turbocharger's whistle rising with each rev. There was a grinding of gears, another roar and a crushing impact as the bumper of the car joined the rear wheels a few feet ahead of where it usually sat. Sid tried to open his door, it wouldn't budge. He fumbled for his seatbelt latch, but he couldn't get to it through all the airbag fabric around him. The air filled with a hot, acidic, chemical tang. Outside, someone was yelling through a megaphone, but his eardrums were blown, he couldn't make out a word of it. All at once there was a tearing of metal as the driver's door was ripped from its hinges. Sid watched helplessly as two inhumanly huge hands reached in and pulled Hubbard from the car like a rag doll.

  Then there was a pause.

  Now, Sid knew he couldn't "die." He'd tried to kill himself more than once, the first time was just two days after the start of his 253rd year in this place. That was only one of several unfortunate incidents. There was no sweet release of death here, but there was pain. Pain was real enough alright. A severed limb, a terrible fall, or a bullet hole, these things might resolve themselves after a time, but when they were happening, they hurt just as much as if you were living on Earth. No, he was not scared of death, but he was scared just the same. It wasn't the roaring truck or the giant hands or the hissing heat he could feel growing under his feet. It was the pause.

  The universe, Sid had observed, has a rhythm, a sort of ebb and flow. What really bothered him was the pause, the moment when he felt an eerie quiet envelop him. Any child who grew up watching the classic Looney Toons would recognize the pause instantly. It's that moment where the coyote hangs in the air before falling into the canyon. It's Yosemite Sam's plaintive look at the camera, just before the anvil hits. In this case, it was the moment right before dozens of overheating, shattered lithium-ion batteries exploded into a searing white fireball. For Mr. S. G. Lokavid it was, once again, terrible pain fading into a familiar, temporary oblivion.

  Unaware of the passing of time, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard woke up with a headache. A bad one. He had forgotten what real pain was. His nose was an agony of smashed cartiledge and his left knee sprained and throbbing. He was cuffed to a metal chair at the wrists and ankles, in a darkened cell of some sort. As he came-to, more details of his surroundings came into focus. The walls were smooth metal. The room seemed to be about twenty feet on each side. The door, however, was crazy tall. He couldn't even see the ceiling, the room just went up into blackness. There was a shaft of greenish light from a window a couple of stories up, casting a distored version of itself on the opposite wall. 'Very film noir,' he thought to himself.

  There were also sounds.

  The whole place throbbed with a low, pulsing hum of power punctuated by the random crackling of electrical discharge. There was grinding and clanking, and there also were distant, distorted voices, pinched and small, as if they were coming through cheap speakers. Most disturbing were the screams. They would pierce the gloom every now and again sending chills through Ron's aching body. He wondered what had happened, the last thing he remembered was having a memory of his father's father. Sid asked him something, then . . . he woke up here.

  And where was Sid? He always seemed to know what to do. But, as usual, Ron wondered what was going to happen to him next. Just as he was beginning to panic at the thought of being abandoned here, there was a metallic clattering of gears and the whine of servo motors coming from the impossibly tall door. The massive, metal panel slid slowly into the gloom above. And now, the real moment of terror and recogntion, for in the doorway were two, disparate figures. One was an impossible monster. He knew immediately what it was. A towering, shaggy figure, nine or ten feet tall with an inhuman face. But that featureless face, with its tiny, sunken eyes and bony plates was as familiar to him as his own. He'd written that very face into existence. It was Terl, the Psychlo overlord from his novel Battlefield Earth. However, it wasn't the hulking Terl that frightened him. Not by a long shot. That terror was reserved for the slightly paunchy, diminutive figure with the red hair and thick glasses that Terl stood protectively over. It was the sight of his firstborn son that filled him with dread.