By William Markiewicz
(continued from last issue)
This "archival" story was inspired by a few of my dreams which I linked together.
For the nth time the Chief of the Planetary Council glanced over Agent G's report. His two assistants were silent. The Chief was as moved now as the first time the strangers presented themselves. But this time the feeling was mixed with a sensation of triumph and the foretaste of victory; at last one of ours has killed the enemy and the enemy feared death!
The Chief spoke:
--"Gentlemen, our enemies are those 'flames.' Those who visited us and whom we suspected of being hypnotized were in reality inhabited by those flames, as by internal parasites. We've learned that the flames attack the human mind without altering it. They govern it, nourishing themselves on something human though we don't know its nature. Let's call it 'soul' as we have no other name. They abandon the host once the body is destroyed, or perhaps, when the psychic substance they devour is depleted. Perhaps they don't fear death because they are able to transplant themselves from one human being to another. Notice please, that Dr. Z and others were nearby many people at the moment of their acts of suicide. Otherwise the flames are doomed to die out when no other host is found.
We don't know the purpose of their work projects but it is certain that that's where the flames gather an available human mass, like a reservoir for vampires. The works perhaps have no purpose and are a way to trick us. The reports indicate that the atmosphere in the camps is one of exhaltation, alcoholism, drugs, and the incontestable fact is that the first victims were psychically unstable, patients from insane asylums. I propose that each of us submit to severe and regular psychiatric observation and that, like voluntary prisoners, we strictly observe each other to assure ourselves of the absolute secrecy of our decisions.
Our next steps in my opinion should be to discover the flames' specific weakness and fight them with 'antibiotics' because this is not an enemy in the proper sense of the word, but a sickness, sentient and intelligent. The only protagonists who openly identify themselves are their official representatives with whom we are negotiating, those who handle the finances, manpower ... We must find a way to kidnap a few of them and cover this by simulating accidents or 'suicides.' I don't believe that these disappearances would cause much havoc among our enemies who are used to changing bodies like the lizard changes its skin. The captives will serve as guinea pigs. They'll show us a way to find an 'anti-flame' method. We know from the Soviet psychological research into telepathy that the subject isolated by an electromagnetic field cannot receive transmitted thoughts. This led to a hypothesis of the electrical origin of thought currents. The monsters do not have telepathic power, proved by the fact that the flame died and nothing came to its aid. However this field may block their aggression as well. The kidnappers must wear clothing that creates a protective electromagnetic field around them. If proved effective, it may be our main defence in the future. Any comments or objections?"
There were none.
(Continued in the next issue)