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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Archive for October, 2011

The Horror Below

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Since this is ALL HALLOW’S EVE ( Halloween to those of you who are not afficionados of the macabre and the horrific, The-Night-Before-All-Saints-Day) I thought I’d give you my best horror story, which I wrote a couple of years ago for this special observance. So,here it is:

It’s impossible for me to describe in detail all the events that led to my present state. As I sit here in the courtroom charged with what happened to Allen Hastings, I know that my testimony will be dismissed, and I will be executed. Perhaps that’s just as well. My dreams are haunted and I no longer wish to imagine what lurks in the dark corners of any room in which I reside.
It all started when I met Allen at the University –––– the class in Gothic literature. Our mutual interests in the gloomy settings, the grotesque and vile events, and the atmosphere of degeneration and decay of 12th and 13th century northern Europe, served as the basis for the development of a warm friendship. We shared many evenings in the local Rathskeller, drinking beer and feasting on bratwurst and sauerbraten. But with time, I began to have a sense of unease.
Outwardly jovial, but inwardly tortured, as I was later to learn, Allen expressed interest in the darkest aspects of medieval German literature, and especially the supposed long-lost book, Die Ubergeist, written by the mad necromancer, Gottfried Abendsturm.
Toward the end of the semester, he began ranting on and on, sometimes in unintelligible German, about the abominable creatures hidden all around us, and how the book could guide us to their hiding places and expose them.
I began to worry that he was losing his senses, and tried to deflect him from this obsession.  “Since you’ve never seen the book ––– it seems no one has –––– why waste your time agonizing about it?” I asked him.
He smiled…. no, he leered. “I’ve not only seen it, but I’ve read it.”
I laughed. “What nonsense. I dare you to show it to me.” These were the fatal words. I so wish I could bring back and smash that utterance into atomic pulp.
“Are you certain? Once you see it, read it, there’s no turning back,” he warned.
I shrugged. “Sure. After all, how often does one see a book that doesn’t exist.”
So, the next day I went to his apartment, said hello to several of my friends and class- mates as I entered the building, and foolishly told them I had come to visit Allen. I had never seen Allen’s flat, and I found it to be a strange and forbidding place. It was filled with death masks hanging from the walls, black curtains and furniture, and only a few electric lights ––– but dozens of candelabras with blood red candles. At that point I determined to leave as quickly as possible, after satisfying myself that Allen’s book did not exist.
He offered me a glass of wine and brought me into his study. He opened a safe that sat beside his desk. He reached in and brought out a huge book, richly embroidered with hideous gargoyles and satanic faces, and placed it on a table. “Well, here it is. Beautiful isn’t it? But be careful. The pages are so old that even the slightest injury will cause them to fragment into dust.”
I began to shiver as I turned the pages. It was written in medieval German, and throughout there were drawings of skulls, devil heads, corpses, and smiling rats with blood tinged teeth.  Allen now took over and turned to page 666. He then looked at me and said,  “Are you stouthearted enough to come with me where few have gone, where the sun does not shine, where the unspeakable resides?”
I hesitated and began to tremble uncontrollably. Oh, why didn’t I flee from this challenge? But being young and foolhardy, I was more afraid of seeming a coward than listening to my deep fears. I calmed myself and said, “Of course I’m ready. Where is this netherworld? In your kitchen?”  I laughed, perhaps a bit shrilly, and waited for his response.
He chuckled hoarsely, a cold, almost sinister sound, and then turned back to the book. He now proceeded to recite the poem on page 666 in a guttural, alien language:
“Ph’nglu mglw’nafh wgah’naglfhagn
Mzz’xetth mzz’etth ndd’rtth dz’ftthe
Wghtth’lleh mnw’ttghth zzfg’llenth
Tth’zcggmeh dzznth’emnth gdzdd’brgh.”
And when he finished, he smiled and closed the book. We stood staring at each other. His smile never left him. I began to feel lightheaded, and as I watched, the walls started to shake slowly, then violently, and the room disappeared. Then I found myself in an ancient church, in which, oddly enough, there were no religious ornaments. It’s difficult to describe how cold it was, and how unpleasant the smell of primeval decay. On what seemed to be the altar, I saw a long, raised stone slab above which hung a carved black bird with its wings spread out.
I stood transfixed until Allen turned to me and whispered, “Here.”  He had brought along two flashlights and two two-way radios. He handed me one of each and said, “Come, help me move that slab on the alter. Slowly, slowly, and with enormous effort, we were successful in uncovering an ingress into yawning blackness. The light from his flashlight revealed a long stone staircase leading down into what appeared to be infinite darkness. The smell that arose from the depths exceeded the most awful I have ever experienced ––– indescribable, except to say it caused me to retch over and over until, exhausted, I sank to the floor
Allen helped me up to a bench, and I tried to catch hold of myself. While doing so, I looked around at the church. Unimaginably old, perhaps several thousand years or more. Monstrous spider webs, encompassing all manner of dead insects, hung from the tall rafters. In the dark shadows surrounding us, I thought I saw movement, and then nothing. As I looked down away from my fear, I saw the skeletal remains of dead animals ––––rats, bats, birds. I shuddered and looked up at Allen.
“Where are we? In Hell?”
“Perhaps. But certainly a place where few have been and where I must finish my task. I need to go down into these catacombs. I must know what lies beneath this place. I’ll keep in touch with you through the radio.”  He turned and went to the opening.
“No, wait. I’m going with you. I can’t let you go down there alone.”  Sick with fear, but nevertheless unwilling to allow my friend to descend into that pit without me, I rose and started toward him.
“No!” he shouted. “No! You need to stay here. You can’t come with me.”
“Yes. I must. I insist.”
“If you try, I’ll call off this journey and we’ll leave. Then I’ll come back later. All alone. Won’t that be worse for me ? No one to contact?”
“All right. But for God’s sake, be careful.”
I sat down again, shivering, once more assessing the gloom where shadows moved and where I heard rustling and crunching as ghostly feet stepped upon the animal corpses. I shined the light in all directions, but failed to see the ghouls I sensed were all around me.
After what seemed like hours, the radio crackled and I heard Allen’s voice. “Oh, my God. Oh, heavenly Father. What awful things I see. Ghastly! Dirty. Beastly. Ululating, demonic, blackest hell.”
“Allen, Allen, what is it? What are you seeing?”
“I can’t……. I can’t describe it. It’s too awful. You must get out! Get out!”
“No! I can’t leave you.”
“Yes. You must get out! But first move back the stone slab. For God’s sake push it back over the portal into this place beyond hell!” And then the screams began, high-pitched awful screams, Allen’s screams.
Breathing hard and sweating cold sweat, I managed to move the slab back over that doorway to the unspeakable. I then ran to the entrance of the church, brushing past the slavering things that began to move out of the shadows, cackling, mumbling incomprehensible words.
I lunged out of the church into the night and into a crumbling graveyard. I began to scream as I ran toward lights I saw in the distance. After reaching what appeared to be a street leading to the university, I looked back, and the church was gone.
Shaking like some poor epileptic soul, I reached my apartment, tumbled into my room, and let out a strangled cry as I found Allen’s mutilated head on my bed. As I collapsed to the floor shrieking, the radio that I still clutched in my hand crackled, and I heard harsh, croaking laughter, followed by a voice, deep, fiendish, savage, cruel, shout out, “ Allen Hastings is dead and I am FREE! ”

A National Disgrace

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

This is an article worth reading. A concise review of a major reason for the economic chaos in Washington.

900 Days Since Senate Democrats Offered Budget Plan Is National Disgrace
By Jeff Sessions & Paul Ryan
National Review Online
October 14, 2011 11:30 A.M.

America is greatly in need of strong, competent leadership.

Our nation’s total debt is now larger than our entire economy. Unemployment is painfully high and growth is painfully slow. Since taking office, the president has accelerated Washington’s reckless spending spree, has added trillions of dollars to the debt, and has refused to present a credible plan to put Washington’s fiscal house in order.

Meanwhile, Congress is divided. Republicans control the House, Democrats the Senate. As required by law, House Republicans presented a budget in committee, brought it to the floor, and passed it earlier this spring. It was an honest, detailed, concrete plan to put our budget on the path to balance and our economy on the path to prosperity. But Senate Democrats, during this time of national crisis, failed even to present a budget plan — in open defiance of the law and the public they serve. Senate Majority Leader Reid said it would be “foolish” to have a budget. The reason for this evasion is clear: Democrat leaders in Washington think it is politically foolish to commit publicly to the kind of tax increases and health-care rationing that would be required to sustain their vision of ever-expanding federal government.

This is the second consecutive year that Senate Democrats have disregarded the legally mandated budget process. In fact, this Sunday will mark the 900th day since Senate Democrats last adopted a formal budget plan as outlined in the Congressional Budget Act. It is a national disgrace.

As we encourage our colleagues to fulfill their basic duties of governance, we will continue to advance proposals aimed at strengthening the budget process. It is time Washington played by the rules. Elected leaders have a legal — and moral — obligation to prioritize taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars with an honest budget. We’re approaching 900 days since Senate Democrats last took that obligation seriously.

— U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama serves as the Ranking Republican of the Senate Budget Committee. U.S. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin serves as Chairman of the House Budget Committee.

The Occupy Wall Street Conundrum

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement (lately approved by and urged on by Obama, Nancy Pelosi the Democrat party, and the labor movement) has now been demonstrating and fouling the streets for several weeks. The OWS is made up of a motley group of disaffected people, mostly young, mostly far left wing who wish to bring down and destroy capitalism. What are their demands? They include: a guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment; a $20-an-hour minimum wage; an end to the fossil fuel economy; open borders so anyone can travel anywhere to work and live; $1 trillion for infrastructure; $1 trillion for ecological restoration;  a free college education; forgiveness of all debt on the entire planet. My, my. A well thought out anarchic socialist plan, huh?

Actually the OWS crowd should be picketing the White House. The Wall Street bankers are his pals. Obama has broken all records as recipient of campaign funds from Wall Street bankers who have also overwhelmingly given funds to the Democrat party. And Obama is responsible for the fact that during his regime, America’s median income has declined even faster since the “recovery” began three Junes ago than it did during the recession. Students are graduating into a jobless “recovery,” and  blacks and Hispanics have unemployment rates of 16 and 11.3 percent, respectively.

Hopefully, 2012 is just around the corner, or is it? Ask Bev Perdue of North Carolina.

Newt Gingrich Hits It Out of the PARK

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Newt Gingrich at the October 11 Republican primary presidential debate answered the question about whether Wall Street bankers should be put in jail for their role in the economic debacle. And this was his reply: “The fix has been  put in by the federal government. And if you want to put people in jail,  you ought to start with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, and look at the  politicians who created the environment, the politicians who profited from the  environment, and the politicians who put this country in  trouble.”

Hooray for Newt. Frank and Dodd were responsible for the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and almost all of the elements that caused the housing meltdown.

Romney and Cain on TARP

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Mitt Romney and Herman Cain’s defense of TARP was a shocker during The Washington Post – Bloomberg News debate on October 11that reminded us what a mess the Republican Party is in in the 2012 election.

Defending TARP bursts Herman Cain’s populist bubble. And Romney defended the 2008 bank bailout in an awfully disingenuous statement. According to Romney, the $700 billion Wall Street rescue package(TARP) “was designed to keep not just a collapse of individual banking institutions, but to keep the entire currency of the country worth something.” That’s patent nonsense.

TARP was NEVER marketed to the public as a program to prop-up the dollar. It was proposed as a means of keeping credit markets liquid; and to keep banks lending to business, so businesses would keep people employed. And as soon as Congress handed Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson a blank check for $700 billion (along with near-dictatorial powers over the American financial services industry and de facto control over the U.S. economy) things changed.

Instead of a program to move illiquid mortgage-backed securities off the books of banks, TARP became a no-strings-attached cash infusion to favored financial institutions and corporations including:  Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Morgan Stanley, Wachovia, HSBC, Bank of America, Societe Generale, Barclays Plc, Danske, Royal Bank of Scotland, Banco Santander, and Lloyds Banking Group. And some of the TARP money was recycled back as PAC contributions to many of the  politicians who voted for TARP and sat on the committees responsible for financial services and other related legislation.

In defending TARP, Romney and Cain aligned themselves with crony capitalism and some of the worst financial crimes if the past 4 years. Is this the kind of conservatism that Romney and Cain represent? If so, we’re in terrible trouble.

William S. Frankl, MD, All Rights Reserved