The Majesty of God hath in some sort suffered itself to
be circumscribed to corporal limits. His supernatural and
celestial sacraments bear signs of our terrestrial condition. *

Paris, 1357

She stood in rags, clinging to the parapet of a windswept tower. Lightning forked the firmament and the skyline flickered with a thousand spires. Climbing the balustrade, she crept out along a narrow ledge, where gargoyles spewed torrents into the square below. She muttered:

‘Forgive me Lord.’

Then she stepped off the precipice. She caught sight of the moon, half-veiled by cloud, as if drenched in blood. How long she had thought of suicide! She could not conceive of anything else. And now she was falling to her death! She had planned it out so often. She might have cut her own throat. Or taken a draught of poison. Yet jumping from the belfry of Saint Jeane en Grève felt commensurate with her sin. A final act of defiance against Mother Church. There was a time when she feared nothing between heaven and earth. Not even the thunder-crack. All witches come to ghastly ends. But not her. She had cheated the inquisition! She had escaped the pyre! Her demise would be swift and painless. As the ground raced upward, she foresaw her corpse splayed on the cobbles at dawn. It was a ghastly scene. “Bad debt,” said one. “A broken heart,” said another. “A pact with the Devil,” said the priest. “Suicide is an abomination. A crime against God who gives us life.” They would bury her in unhallowed ground. But how joyous to be ghostly! To be free of the world and all its wickedness! Tumbling through the blackness, she heard a cacophony of peeling bells, as if every church in Paris was announcing her birth, baptism, marriage and death…

Sunhill Asylum, March 11, 1957

She lurches awake just as her body hits the ground.

The telephone is ringing.

She fumbles for the light switch and squints at her watch. Three am. Trembling, she picks up the handset:

‘Selena Fulbright speaking.’

‘Good Morning Ms. Fulbright. I trust I didn’t wake you.’

‘Dr. Schneider? Is that you?’

‘Yes. Why? Were you expecting someone else?’

‘That’s not funny. Have you any idea what time it is?’

‘Time is the one thing we do not have Ms. Fulbright.’

‘It’s Three ‘o’ clock in the morning for Christ’s sake.’

‘Sorry to disturb your beauty sleep. But in sunny Texas it’s Eight pm. I’m sitting on my veranda sipping a cool lemonade. The crickets are singing and the mountains are pink in the sunset. I paint a pretty picture, but I’m not a happy man Ms. Fulbright.’

‘Is this line secure?’

‘According to our man in the exchange. Smile. You’re on the hot-line to Psi-Strat.’

‘Well? What is it? Has something happened?’

‘That’s exactly what I wanted to ask you Ms. Fulbright. Did you get the pictograms?’

‘Wait a minute…’

Still trembling, she gropes along the bedside cabinet and puts on her glasses. Then, pulling a file from her briefcase, she sits up in bed.

‘Are you still there?’ asks Schneider.’

‘Yes, still here. At what time was the package transmitted?’

‘Six pm GMT. We sent a star, followed by a square, and a circle.’

‘In that specific order?’

‘Yes. Why? What did Vallis receive?’

‘He only got the star. The star of David. He said it was given to him by a Jew called Jacob. A hermit from the Old World.’

‘The drug causes psychosis in high doses.’

‘Well at least he got one correct.’

‘But we didn’t send The star of David. We sent a pentagram.’

‘Close enough, isn’t it?’

‘No. They’re two completely different shapes.’

‘I’m sorry Dr. Schneider, but you underestimate Vallis. He’s way beyond these childish pictograms. He’s not interested in playing your psychic games.’

‘Is not a game. It’s a psychotronic test.’

‘You’ll ruin his instincts. Like the “human calculators” who lose all their mysterious powers when they are taught the elementary rules of arithmetic.’

‘Maybe. But I’m being leant on from above. Washington isn’t happy with our progress.’

‘Psychotronics is not an exact science, Dr. Schneider. These things take time. I’m confident that given another few months, Vallis will become the Oracle we all hoped.’

‘What was the receiver trance level?’

‘He was in low Beta. According to his EEG. But Vallis can fake his EEG. ’

‘Low beta? Is that all? Telegnosis requires deep Theta. Telepathic impressions are registered more accurately when free from deliberate efforts to transmit or receive them. The conscious censer mustn’t interfere.’

‘I know that, but – ’

‘You must keep Vallis regressed at all times. Regressed subjects are less prone to question why they are being asked to do such and such a thing. Understand?’

‘I understand.’

‘And double the dose.’

‘Double the dose? Are you sure? That may cause irreparable harm. Prolonged high doses can lead to brain damage.’

‘I’m well aware of the dangers Ms. Fulbright. But we must get the location of those silos. Our reconnaissance came up with zilch. Too many trees. Get Vallis to remote view those locations again. The boreal taiga is too big: most of it is beyond the range of our Dragon Ladies.’

Dragon Ladies?

‘That’s high altitude reconnaissance aircraft to you.’

She rifles through her notes:

‘Wait a minute. I have some locations here. According to Vallis, there are rocket factories at Kaliningrad and Khimki.’

‘We’ve known about those factories for over a year. And they’re not in the boreal taiga. Can’t you give us anything new?’

‘I’ve got something, but it might ruffle a few feathers.’


‘Vallis insists your new spy plane should be mothballed.’

Does he now? On what grounds?’

‘He claims the Soviets can still track it, despite modifications to the aircraft. The Soviets know all about Project Rainbow.’

A flare of static hits the line. Then Schneider snaps:

‘And what the hell would Vallis know about Project Rainbow?’

‘Obviously everything there is to know. Yet you insult his intelligence with pictogram telepathy.’

‘We need watertight intel. If Vallis can’t receive simple shapes, why should we believe anything else he says?’

‘It doesn’t work like that.’

‘Just get me the location of those silos. Deepen his trance and double the dose.’

‘Aren’t you worried about the consequences?’


‘What if he doesn’t come back?’

‘That’s a chance we’ll have to take.’

‘I thought Vallis was important to you.’

‘He is. But not indispensable. Vallis isn’t the only psychic in our programme. We’ve had several new leads this week. Two girls from Spain; an Inuit boy from Quebec; and three Buddhists from Nepal who have long been engaged in the exploration of supernatural abilities. All of them are telepaths extraordinaire. And get this – they were in contact with each other, long before we found them. I mean, these kids are so evolved, they make Vallis look like a monkey.’

‘That’s not very nice Dr. Schneider.’

‘I was trying to draw a comparison.’

‘It’s not like you to say such things. If Vallis is a monkey, what does that make you? … What does it make the rest of us?’

‘Are you becoming attached to Vallis?’


‘It’s quite common in your line of work. Are you having second thoughts? A crisis of conscience?’

‘No. Besides, you trained me, remember. A Catholic priest, no less. Covert military operations, drug running, weapon sales, sexual perversion and robot assassins… How do you square all that with the confessional?’

Schneider swats a fly from his face then says:

‘God works for the CIA now, Ms. Fulbright. Bibles, bullets and bombs. Half the Christian missionaries in the world are employed by the Agency in one way or another. Protecting freedom always has its price. Me and my conscience get along just fine. The good Lord will judge me as He sees fit.’

‘That’s just the point though, isn’t it? Vallis has powers normally associated with mystics. But we’re debasing them.’

‘I fear you have too high an opinion of Vallis. Just stick to the program. If Vallis was half the psychic he claims, we’d have that intel by now.’

‘Vallis is more powerful than you realise. He disarmed the trigger today.’

‘Pardon? What did you say?’

The trigger. He disarmed it.’

‘He did? My god! Well why didn’t you say that in the first place?’

‘You should see the way his mind takes it apart. It’s incredible. I mean, that thing’s like a Chinese puzzle, but the pieces just pop out. He was into the fuse chamber in minutes.’

‘How long did he take, exactly?’

She checks her notes:

‘Er, one minute, forty-five seconds.’

‘Impressive. And what’s his success rate?’

‘About eighty percent.’

‘And the other twenty?’

‘He fried the diodes.’

Schneider bawls down the phone:

Damn! Damn! That’s no damn good! We want him to disarm the bombs, not detonate them!

She flinches and retorts sheepishly:

‘I’m doing my best Dr. Schneider.’

‘Well your best isn’t good enough. I stuck my neck out for you, remember?’

‘This asylum is pretty backward, you know.’

‘Is Pontius a problem? Is he being obstructive? If so, he can be removed quite easily. Don’t forget, we provided most of his equipment, by god!’

‘No, it’s not Pontius. It’s this hospital. There’s something about the place. It gives me the creeps.’

‘It’s an asylum. What did you expect?’

Her eyes flit nervously round the shadows where a mahogany wardrobe seems to respire in the gloom; wind howls round the ramparts, rattling the windows and the drapes billow in an icy draught.

‘I don’t like it here. It makes me uneasy.’

‘You’re just homesick, that’s all. The sooner this is all over, the sooner you can come home.’

‘Can’t we take Vallis back to Texas, and start again there?’

‘Fly him out? Are you crazy? We can do without that sort of attention, thank you very much.’

‘I’m telling you Dr. Schneider, there’s something wrong with this place. I get bad feelings here. Very bad feelings.’

‘Have you seen anything unusual?’

‘No. But there are cold spots.’

‘Most of Sunhill hasn’t changed since Victorian times. And it’s on the moors. Of course there are cold spots.’

‘Don’t patronise me. You know very well what I mean. Supernatural drops in temperature. The kind you associate with negative entities.’

She shivers, clasping the blanket round her neck; her platinum curls are tucked inside a silk nightcap, and without her makeup she looks almost childlike, fearful of the darkness that swamps about the bed:

‘My room’s an icebox. The mattress is lumpy and there’s mould in the bathroom.’

He chuckles:

‘It’s that old English rustic charm; the Brits are famous for it. A bit of mould won’t kill you. Count yourself lucky: in Texas we check the bed each night for Rattlers. Or have you forgotten? I found a Cottonmouth in my boots this morning. And you’re worried about a lumpy mattress?’

‘It’s not funny Dr. Schneider. This place is backward. And the food stinks. They serve Bubble and Squeak for breakfast.’

‘Bubble what?’

‘Never mind.’

‘Do you have anything else to report Ms. Fullbright? Apart from dissatisfaction with your bed and board?’

‘There is one thing. I think the psychotropic agent might be working against us.’

‘In what way?’

‘Vallis was already a gifted telepath before he came to Sunhill. Now he just pre-empts my questions before I even ask them. Under Cyclops he comes alive. It’s hard to explain unless you’re actually with him. You can almost feel him inside your head.’

‘That’s the whole idea, isn’t it?’

‘Yes. But I think he might be onto us – know what we’re about.’

‘What makes you think that?’

‘Nothing specific. But he seems to take great pleasure leading me round in circles. Yesterday he had visions of the Apocalypse. He saw the whole Earth consumed by fire. It upset him greatly. He was in tears all afternoon. I was about to reassure him when he took the words right out of my mouth. The exact words. Whereupon he mentioned the USS Nautilus. He gave precise details of the vessel, including its location.’

‘Which is?’

‘The Barents Trough, north of Svalbard.’

‘Interesting. Very interesting.’

‘Is that correct?’

‘I can neither confirm nor deny that the USS Nautilus is operating in that vicinity.’

‘I’ll take that as a yes, then.’

‘A pity Vallis can’t tell us something about the Russians. That is the general point of the exercise, you know.’

‘There’s no need to be flippant. Vallis knows more than you give him credit. And he’s very well acquainted with the physics of nuclear fission.’

‘How so?’

‘I’ve no idea. He claims he got his information from a Selenite.’

‘A what?’

‘A moon creature.’

How fascinating.

‘According to the Selenite, there was a nuclear war on Mars 200 million years ago.[i] And it completely destroyed their civilization. Vallis gave the yield for each bomb and the location of each air burst. Apparently the Cydonia region of the red planet is littered with Plutonium-244.’[ii]

‘Don’t let Vallis misdirect you. It’s planet Earth we’re concerned about. Langley is getting impatient. And some are beginning to doubt the veracity of your claims. What do you propose I do? Inform them of a Martian war that occurred before homo-sapiens even existed? It’s all very entertaining Ms. Fulbright, but it’s far from helpful. And it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in his psychic powers.’

‘Hasn’t Vallis given proof enough? He just told you where the Nautilus was.’

‘I can neither confirm nor deny –’

‘Yes, yes, I know. Spare me the spy-spiel, would you?’

‘We need the location of those silos. Pronto.’

‘I need more time. I’ve been with Vallis barely a month. He’s only just imprinted. And I’m worried about the long term effects of Cyclops on his mental health.’

‘Believe me, you can’t make Vallis any more crazy than he already is. He’s been dissociative all his life. They pumped him full of L.S.D. long before we got our hands on him.’

‘Cyclops isn’t exactly helping his psychosis.’

‘Need I remind you that we are facing an implacable enemy. Their avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost. There are no rules in such a game…’ [iii]

‘I’m well aware of that Dr. Schneider.’

‘—If the United States is to survive, the cherished American values of fair play must be reconsidered. We must develop effective PSI and counter-PSI services. We must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clever means than those used against us…’ [iv]

‘Yes Dr. Schneider.’

‘—The arms race escalates day by day. How many nuclear warheads are aimed at our cities and military installations? Think of the trillions of dollars spent to create a strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction. It’s complete insanity. Our jets can only intercept so many. But people like Vallis could stop them altogether. Telekinesis is the only real defence.’

‘But how many innocents will you use as laboratory animals?’

‘Has our work become repugnant to you?’

‘No Dr. Schneider. Its just that –’

‘The Russians have their own PSI program. You think their subjects are willing participants? The gulags are full of doctors, conducting inhumane experiments on criminals, lunatics, gypsies, and sexual deviants. They too have drugs to enhance sensory and perceptive processes. How long before their telepaths disable our ICBMs? The question you have to ask yourself is: “Am I a patriot?” Well are you, Ms. Fulbright?’

‘Of course I am.’

‘So what are you going to do about it?’

‘It’s not that simple. Vallis isn’t like other supplicants. I don’t think he’s psychologically suitable.’

‘You assured me you could create the perfect Oracle.’

‘I can. I know I can. But Vallis is always one step ahead of the game.’

‘Just provide him with a safe environment in which to confess the secrets of his guilty past. Then give him what he wants. Keep him happy.’

‘I know how to do my job.’

‘I’m beginning to wonder.’

She bristles:

‘Are you questioning my ability?’

‘Well just how far have you got with Vallis?’

‘I’m beyond the first induction.’

‘Tell me about it…’

‘All my hypnotic queues and suggestions are based on his own desires. Alchemy features in his journal – so I’m using that. I work with his own unique creativity. The programming won’t hold if the mental images aren’t specific to his psyche. Vallis has seen faeries all his life. So I’m working with a realm of enchanted beings. His psychic gift is strongly associated with his Jill alter-ego. So I’m erasing Jack altogether. The Faery Queen will rectify the discrepancy between his surface image and his underlying female personality structure. Subliminal tapes are used in my absence. So his mind is constantly being stretched.’

‘And when you’re alone together?’

‘I smother him in love. I call it Love Bombing. Unless love is given, there is no trauma when it is taken away. Jack is learning to adore me. To please me. He is very lovingly controlled. He’ll soon be ready for the gestation chamber.’

‘Gestation chamber?’

‘That’s where the Oracle is born. A floatation tank where all sensory input is strictly controlled.’

‘I hope you succeed Ms. Fulbright. We need that Oracle. And I’d hate to loose you.’

‘I’ll get the location of those silos. I swear.’

‘Make sure you do. We’re in the midst of a strategic PSI war. We cannot be outmatched by the enemy. The consequences are unthinkable. The Russians can transform, shape, direct and robotize a man. They have robotized men who are not even aware they’ve been robotized.[v] I want you to use everything in your psychiatric armamentarium. Are we clear?’

‘Yes Dr. Schneider. Another few weeks and Vallis will be putty in my hands.’

‘You said that last month.’

‘I just need a little more time. That’s all.’

‘Very well Ms. Fulbright. You’ve got eight weeks. But if Vallis doesn’t provide any intel by then, we’ll have to let him go. And cover your tracks will you?’

‘What do you take me for? A rank amateur?’

The clink of ice-cubes pings down the line as Schneider pours himself another lemonade. Then he says:

‘Before we finish our extended telephone conversation, there’s something else I want to ask you. Has Vallis ever mentioned his place of work?’

‘You mean the valve factory?’

‘Yes. Mullards.

‘No. He’s not mentioned it. Why?’

‘I was given a tip-off by a spook in MI5. Apparently Vallis was working on a secret project for the Brits.’

‘What kind of project?’

‘The spook didn’t know. It was above his pay check. But Vallis was given the push.’


‘He was caught stealing.’

‘Stealing what?’

‘Thermionic valves. When the police raided his house, his basement was full of them. I’d like to know what he was doing with all those valves. Can you find out?’

‘Of course. It’s what I do.’

‘Good. I’ll leave it in your capable hands.’

Schneider hangs up.

Selena claws off her glasses and turns out the light.

Copyright © Nicholas Shea 1992-2021 All rights reserved.

* Montaigne.

i. ‘Death On Mars’, by John Brandenburg, Ph.D., Plasma Physicist. 2015.

ii. Ibid. Linda Moulton Howe. Earth Files. https://www.earthfiles.com/2021/01/11/180-day-countdown-to-june-24-2021-u-s-govt-update-about-advanced-aerial-threats-of-uaps-ufos-and-what-happened-on-mars/

iii. General Doolittle.

iv. Ibid, modified for PSI.

v. Dr. Jose Delgado.

Image credit: Moon by Patricio Hurtado on Pixabay. (Public Domain license. Modified and cropped).