Sunday, July 27, 2014

LRH: The Target 2 Chronicles, Chapter 18 "A Place Where Nothing Ever Happens"

  Sara was sitting in her favorite chair, finishing a crossword puzzle when the call came. A steady, summer rain was falling and through the open patio doors, the world smelled of green and loam. Like so many occurrences in this pleasant place, the call followed a premonition. The Amherst Bulletin crossword puzzle she was working was called 'Sounds Fishy,' and the clue 'helpless' led her to think 'flounder,' but instead she automatically wrote 'Hubbard' with an exclamation point. These kinds of things happened quite often, so she was hardly shocked when she heard the news from the stranger on the phone. It wasn't like when you were alive and had those coincidences where you'd think of someone and then they'd call, but nothing would come of it. No, in this place, these sorts of things always meant something.

  She wondered who this Joe Smith was when he first introduced himself. Sara had no idea that there was another reality sitting cheek to jowl with hers, let alone one filled to the brim with more popes and prophets, baghwans and bishops, muftis and movie stars, cardinals and conmen than you could shake a stick at. She had always assumed there would be an afterlife since her mother was a spiritualist, and Sara had delved into black magick through her relationship with Jack Parsons, from whose bed Hubbard had lured her. It just hadn't turned out quite the way she imagined it would. Though very pleasant and calm, day-to-day existence here felt sort of subdued and muffled.

  "Joseph Smith. I was the prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? You know . . . the Mormons?" Joe wasn't getting anywhere, she was silent on the other end of the line.

  "Oh, right, yes . . . Mormons" she said drawing out the first 'o' in Mormon. There was another long pause, then she blurted out "Is this about Ron Hubbard by any chance?"

  Smith was a bit shocked, "Well, as a matter of fact, uh, why yes. Yes it is. How did you know?"

  "A fish told me. Are you the ones who don't do blood transfusions?" asked Sara earnestly.

  "A fish told . . . I . . . well, uh, no. No, you're thinking of the Jehovah's Witnesses, they're a bit weird like that" Joe finished.

  "I always got you people confused with them. Sorry, but between Hubbard and Jack, my taste for exotic religious experiences soured a bit" she said dryly.

  Smith went on, "Well, I am calling about Hubbard. He's finally emerged from his loop and I'm sure that sooner or later, you'll be drawn to him for release."

  "Loop? Release? Release from what?" she had no idea what he was talking about.

  "How long have you been . . . you know . . ." Joe stammered.

  "Look, if you mean dead, then just say dead" Sara was getting annoyed by this guy. "And what do you mean by 'loop?'" she queried.

  Joe continued, "On certain rare occasions, when one arrives, uh, here, or where you are, one might not be quite ready to face one's deeds in life and one goes into a repetitive, protective sort of trance."

"Oh, one does, does one?" said Sara theatrically. "Well, that explain's precisely nothing. We didn't exactly get a manual when we woke up dead, you know."

  "Sara, haven't you noticed that there are some people who just seem to be stuck in a loop of sorts, always doing the same thing over and over again?"

  She thought about it for a moment then said, "Oh, you mean like Miss Huntoon down the street. She just walks to the gate and calls for some lost child, over and over again. She doesn't seem to even see any of the rest of us."

  "Well, there you go! She probably did something awful when she was alive and can't face it. Sounds like a classic loop in action. In any case, I could use your help in finding Hubbard and since you were affected by him so negatively, it should be a cinch to find him using your pull. May I send some missionaries to collect you?" he asked.

  "My pull? I doubt I'd have any pull with him. I despise the man, and last I checked, the feeling was mutual. Please be clear, Mr. Smith. What are you saying?" This man was proving to be quite vexing.

  "Pull isn't something you have, it's something you feel, something that guides you. What I'm saying is that I need to find Hubbard and, whether you know it or not, so do you." the man sounded deadly earnest.

  "Alright, so let's say I do go with your missionaries, how will that help you find him?" her curiosity was piqued now.

  "It's called intersectionality, here. And when I say 'here,' I mean the reality where I am. I'm assuming things work more or less the same way where you are. You're in an adjacent reality, a sort of cosmic waiting room." Explaining this was always a challenge.

  "Cosmic waiting room? Might I ask exactly what it is that I'm to wait for?"

  "Well, those of us here where I am, we were all leaders of some sort. Cults, religions, theatre, politics. The common thread we all share is that each and every one of us had followers in life. We're trapped here basically, cut off from all the adjacent realities. We have caretakers who can travel between dimensions and help facilitate your transition." This was always the complicated part. "We believe that your reality serves as a waystation for those who need to intersect with some of our denizens."

  "Wait a second, my 'transition' to what, or should I say 'where?'"

  "You see, when you've been affected by one of us over here in a powerful way you need to interact with them to set you free." His tone was concerned and kind.

  "Free from what? I'm already dead, what's left after that?"

  "We don't know. I'd love to tell you there's something wonderful, but we think it just might be oblivion or nonexistence. To be honest, after a few hundred years, you'll pine for it. Trust me."

  Sara had to think about that one. She had been dead for some 17 years at this point, and her time here had been wonderfully restful. Reading, gardening, painting and cooking filled out her days. Her house was lovely, with a view of Mt. Holyoke and the woods that came right up to her cottage garden. At first she had missed her husband Miles. She thought that surely they'd be together once he passed on, but he never did show up. She was 73 when she went and surely Miles would be in his nineties by now. She figured that it wasn't impossible for him to still be alive, but doubt always gnawed. Eventually, she moved on with her afterlife, made friends, dated a few men. They would talk about their situations, but that's all it ever amounted to. Talk. It was as though nobody really cared what the truth about their reality was. Now here was someone who was claiming to be in another afterlife, and a prophet to boot. It was all too tempting to ignore.

  "You know what, mister? I think I may just take you up on your offer, but there's going to be a catch."

  Joe wasn't expecting this answer, especially the whole catch part, but it was better than a cold 'no.' "Very well then, what is this catch then?"

  "I want to bring a friend along. Someone who reached out to me once, when I was down and out. Someone who understands. We're sort of sisters who never actually met. If anyone has a dog in this fight it's her."

  "And this would be?" Joseph asked tentatively.

  "Margaret Hubbard, Ron's first wife. Polly, think she liked to be called. The bastard really put it to her for years. She passed sometime in the '60s. I owe this to her." For the first time in 17 years Sara felt truly present, as though she'd awakened from a trance. She knew one thing for sure, Smith was right about there being a pull, and she felt it as sure as her own pulse. She had to find Polly. 

  "How do we do it?" asked Sara.

  "Leave that to me, I'll find your friend. I'll send the boys to collect you at once. Thank you Mrs. Hollister, thank you so very much. Goodbye for now." With that the line went to a dial tone and she hung up her phone.

  She looked around her tidy, perfect little cottage, only now, it didn't look as comforting and soothing as it used to. It seemed confining and more than a little smothering. She wondered if she should pack a bag. Would things still just show up when she needed them in this other reality? Were the rules the same? Her mind was flooded with possible scenarios, and not all of them were pretty. She turned on the television, but got only static. The same with the radio. Was it the storm? No. The rain was retreating to the northeast and the sun was sparkling on the droplets in her garden. Just then, she heard a knock at the door. It had been only minutes since she hung up the phone. How could they have arrived so quickly?

  Sara opened her front door, not to Mormon missionaries, but to Polly Hubbard's warm smile. She was soaking wet and clutching a shivering Corgi.

  "I'm awfully sorry to bother you, but I was driving back to Philadelphia and this little fellow ran out in front of me. I swerved to get out of the way and ended up in a ditch. and I wondered if I could use your phone for some help?" said the first Mrs. Hubbard.

  "Polly! It's me. Sara Hollister . . . I mean Northrup . . . you know, Hubbard! Your letter meant so much to me and I always wanted to thank you for it, but . . . well, the thing is I was just talking about you to the Mormon guy." This clearly wasn't registering from the blank look on Polly's face. "I know this must sound crazy, but we were just about to go looking for you."

  "You're Sara Northrup?" Polly was stunned.

  "Yes! I'm Sara Northrup, Alexis' mother. I got a call from Joseph Smith, he's in some other dimension . . . I know it sounds nuts, but he said I had to go to find Hubbard over there, that he was out of some kind of loop and finding him would free me from something and I told him I wouldn't do it without you. Look, I hardly know how to explain this to myself, come in, you two are soaked! I'll put some tea on and try to explain . . ."


Sunday, July 06, 2014

LRH: The Target 2 Chronicles, Chapter 17 "Temporal Trouble in Paradise"

  "Brigham? Did you put the potato salad away?" yelled the founder of the LDS church. Joseph Smith was wearing his red, white and blue barbecue apron, and trying to scrub away the sooty remains of Jack Parson's terrifying firework display from the patio area. Their July Fourth parties were legend in these parts.

  "What do you think? You think I want us to throw up for a week like Fourth of July, 1956? That was fun" came the gruff reply from the open kitchen doors.

  NÂș. 49 Isaiah Way didn't usually stand out from the thousands of other mini-mansions that made up the stucco metastases that was Mountain Meadows. But, for the last week it had been festooned with red, white and blue bunting, and a huge, inflatable reproduction of the Declaration of Independence had stood puffed up on the front lawn. Missionaries had been scuttling about, cleaning and bringing in loads of food from the Costco just off the Zion Parkway in anticipation of the crowd to come.

  Of course, Joe had the missionaries to clean up for him, but they never really did it right. Besides, he was full of nervous energy and cleaning always helped. Even though it was always a big production, he always felt a bit happier to have their home filled with so many people, even if they weren't blood family.

  "Did you see what happened to that clown Hubbard? He's finally surfaced!" growled Brigham. He was looking the news on his iPad and making sandwiches from some party leftovers.

  "What can't you get down from the cupboard?" yelled Smith from the back yard.

  "I said Hubbard goddammit! Hubbard! Did you see what happened to him?" Brigham said with no small amount of exasperation. They had been together 24 hours a day for the last two weeks planning the party. He needed some time away. Maybe he could join Fred Remington and Gertie Stein at Fred's lodge near Yellowstone for some hunting and a few shots of whiskey this summer. He loved Joe, but sometimes . . .

  "Oh, goodness, I was wondering what happened to him. Does he seem to be getting anywhere with his progression?" yelled Joe from the deck.

  "Not from the looks of it" said Brigham, taking a huge bite of his ham and cheese sandwich. "I guess he's been running into some fairly irate characters since we sent him off with Mo. The followers are tough to deal with, but it's always the family that stabs the hardest."

  "Are you talking with your mouth full again? I can hardly understand you. And sit up straight when you eat, you know you get indigestion otherwise" said Joe primly, as he entered the kitchen carrying the the last few stray glasses from the yard.

  Brigham just sat there, in mid-bite, fuming. His light complexion reddened to match the bloody curse on his skin. Joseph was just about to say something else when Brigham snapped, "Well, if you'd actually listen to what I'm saying maybe I wouldn't have to repeat every goddamn word!"

  The bustling missionaries scattered like cockroaches exposed to light.

  "Is it so wrong that I try to maintain a few scraps of civilization around here? We're dead, but we're not savages! I try to keep a nice home for you . . ." Joe's lip was quivering.

  "Oh, fuck, here come the waterworks. I gotta get the hell out of here. Here's your fucking sandwich!" He pushed the plate across the island toward Joe, spun around and barked for his missionaries. "Darcel! Azer! We're outta here . . . now!"

  The two young men appeared from the hallway and waited nervously by the front door. When he reached the entry, Brigham turned back to Joe. "I was trying to tell you about how yer boyfriend Hubbard was doing, but you're at me! You're always at me! It's my manners, or my drinking, or my smoking, or I'm tracking in dirt! Leave me alone, Joe! Just leave me the fuck alone! Go find Hubbard! He probably likes that kind of hell!" And with that, he pushed his minions out the front door and slammed it behind him.

  Joe could hear the garage door opening, then the house shook with the rumble of the exhaust from Joe's H1. He always took the Hummer when he was angry. Joe listened as the huge SUV roared off for parts unknown. "Manners! The man has no manners!" he said to himself, as he compulsively cleaned the dust from the wainscoting in the hallway. "He'll be back after a few days of living like a savage . . . he always comes back." He composed himself as he walked back to the kitchen, saying to whichever missionaries remained in hiding, "Come out, come out, wherever you are! It's alright now, the show's over boys! Get back to work, and remember, that bunting needs to be rolled, not folded!"

  Joe looked at the sandwich sitting on the counter. Brig had decorated it with a tiny American flag on a toothpick. He could be so sweet. He wiped a tear from his cheek. Joe hated it when they fought. It was probably his own fault . . . again. Maybe he was too controlling after all, but the coarseness, how despised the coarseness . . . and the dirt . . . on his nice carpets. He looked at his phone sitting on the granite countertop and thought about calling Brigham to apologize. But, next to the phone was Brigham's iPad, still open to the story about Hubbard's abduction by his eldest son. The image was dramatic! Joe loved gossip and this was too good to ignore. He pushed the fracas to the back burner of his mind, then sat down to read the article and eat the sandwich Brig had made for him.

  This particular story was harrowing, and a bit thrilling if he was to be honest. Revenge, fire, monsters and ultimately the transcendence of the wronged. Oh, the first encounters with those that one had wronged could be potent and transformative. On the other hand, they could lock one even more firmly into delusion. That was always painful. Ron would learn . . . eventually. And what of Sid? It had been months of waiting. What happened to him in that fiery abduction? The pictures showed an awful scene. Just as he was thinking this, there was a chirping from his phone. Unsurprisingly, it was Sid. That's how things worked in this place. He picked up the phone. "Well, Mr. Lokavid, I was just thinking about you!" he said knowingly. "How are you doing?"

  "To be honest, I've had better weeks, I assume you've seen the news?" he said in his perfectly lilting voice.

  "Mmm hmmm, yes, I certainly did! And what a rowdydow that was, and right after seeing Jess? Does he know what happened to you? I'm sure he's concerned not hearing from you and all." There was a twinge of bitterness when he mentioned Jess. The man he'd built an empire for wouldn't so much as give him the time of day. He hoped Sid couldn't sense that. Joe continued, "so, my friend, how can I help?"

  "To be perfectly honest, I don't really remember everything that happened yet. Things don't seem to be lining up. I've read some reports, and the last one had Hubbard heading back to R6 City. I have no idea why." Sid paused and added "He's a tough nut to crack. There are a lot of people who want a piece of him right now."

  "Well, Sid, intersectionality being what it is, he could be anywhere. We'll just have to see how the winds blow. Is there anything we can do?" Joe really wanted in on this. He wasn't so sure Sid was up to the task.

  "Hard to say, Joe. What does Brigham think?" Sid waited for the reply, but there was silence. "Joe, is everything alright? Did you two have another row?"

    "It's okay . . . really. It was just one of our silly quarrels. The usual. He's off to drink or shoot something or wrestle a buffalo. He always comes back." Joseph tried to sound confident and breezy about the whole thing.

  "Disharmony is so unpleasant, but so much of the fabric of our lives is woven from it, no?" Sid said wearily. "And speaking of our lives, what is the date, anyway? How long was I out?" Regeneration could wreak havoc with timelines.

  "It's July fifth. You missed our party. Why?" said Joe.

  Four months. He'd been out for four months. "Oh, dear. Temporal dislocation." Sid said uncomfortably.

  "Really? How exciting! When are you?" asked Joe.

  "It should be March 19 or 20, or so I thought." Sid had been through this with a few of his "deaths" and this sort of thing could be so messy.

  In a reality in which things could grind on with a deadly dull sameness, Joe was always thrilled when something unusual occurred, "Oh, my goodness. Well, when is Hubbard? Did he get pulled along with you?"

  "Well, there is precedent for that sort of thing, Hubbard and I have been in the flow as it were. I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if from his perspective, he's still just a week into this reality. I won't know until I find him however. I hate to cut this short, but I really must do a bit more research and see if I can find Hubbard. You see what you can do on your end and call me if you find out anything. I do hope things work out with Brig. They always seem to. Cheers, my friend." And with that, the Buddha from five months ago ended the call.

  'Who to call? Who to call . . .' thought Joe. He punched the button on his phone to summon Siri.

  "What can I help you with, Joe?" asked the cybernetic voice.

  "Call Mo, mobile."

  "Calling Abu al-Qasim Muhammad Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Abd al-Muttalib, mobile." said the voice, utterly mangling Mo's full name.

  The call went directly to voicemail. Mo was probably on the line with Sid. That would figure. The two of them were always enviably close. Of course, they were two of the big players here. He was small potatoes in comparison. Joe didn't want to seem too desperate or needy, so he thought about who else he might call that had connections to this case. Maybe his best bet was to find someone whose rage and intersectional proximity to Hubbard would take them right to him. He pulled his copy of Barefaced Messiah out of the bookshelf and opened it to one of the many post-its sticking out of it.

  He summoned Siri one more time. "Call Sara Northrup Hollister, home," he said with an ever-so-slightly wicked smile.