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The Horror Below : A Halloween Tale

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

For this upcoming Halloween tomorrow, I thought it might be fun to put one of my Halloween short stories, which others have found both interesting and creepy. If anyone who visits my blog and reads it finds it interesting and creepy, I will be delighted.

The Horror Below

A Halloween Tale

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, All Hallows Eve as it turned out, I went to his apartment, said hello to several of my friends and classmates 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. Now 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 cell phones.. 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 via our cell phones.”  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. I’ll come back later. 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, my cell phone rang 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 barely managed to move the slab back over that doorway to the unspeakable. I 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 cellphone that I still clutched in my hand rang, and I heard harsh, croaking laughter, followed by a voice, deep, fiendish, savage, cruel, shout out,

“ Allen Hastings is dead and I am FREE! ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Spiral Galaxies Amaze Astronomers

Monday, December 12th, 2016

This is a magnificent article on a most astonishing force of nature and helps point out how infintely infinitessimal we all are, even our Milky Way Galaxy, in this strange Universe in which we survive for less than a micromillisecond of time.
Super Spiral Galaxies Amaze Astronomers

A new breed of giants raises questions about how the biggest galaxies arise
By Ken Croswell on December 8, 2015

Sporting a double nucleus, the super spiral galaxy CGCG 122-067 in the constellation Leo emits roughly eight times as much visible light as the Milky Way.

They’re big, they’re bright, they’re beautiful—and they shouldn’t even exist, at least to our current astronomical knowledge: gargantuan spiral galaxies that make our giant Milky Way seem downright modest. Spirals are supposed to be small fry compared to the greatest giant ellipticals, which are football-shaped swarms of stars thought to be the universe’s biggest and brightest galaxies. But now a search across billions of light-years has snared a rare breed of “super spiral” galaxies that rival their giant elliptical peers in size and luminosity, raising questions over how such behemoths are born.

“I was really surprised,” says Patrick Ogle, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology who discovered the super spirals earlier this year. Ogle looked for them by analyzing the NASA Extragalactic Database, an online compendium of galaxy information. He examined nearly 800,000 galaxies within 3.5 billion light-years of Earth, ranking them by luminosity—in particular, by how much visible light they radiate. Astronomers designate the characteristic luminosity of big galaxies with the symbol L*, which is pronounced “L star” and roughly corresponds to the brightness of our own Milky Way.

Galaxies much brighter than L* are extremely rare, and are typically ellipticals. Nevertheless, such powerhouses do exist, and the brightest galaxy in Ogle’s sample shone with a luminosity of 20 L*. Sure enough, it was a giant elliptical galaxy in a galaxy cluster.

But as Ogle’s team reports in work submitted to The Astrophysical Journal last month, three percent of the most luminous galaxies they found are actually spirals. “They look like normal spiral galaxies, but until you quantify how far away they are, you don’t realize how big and bright they are,” Ogle says. “I think that’s probably why people didn’t notice them before.” His sample shows 53 spiral galaxies with luminosities between eight and 14 L*. The largest super spiral, located in the constellation Hercules, possesses a disk of stars 440,000 light-years across, four times the size of the Milky Way’s stellar disk.

“These things are really rare,” Ogle says. Super spirals only pop up once in every billion cubic light-years of space, so astronomers have to look a long way to see any. Whereas the best-known giant elliptical galaxy, M87 in the Virgo cluster, is 54 million light-years from Earth, the closest super spiral galaxy in Ogle’s sample is 1.2 billion light-years distant. Because of their great distance, these galaxies look blurry in current images; the Hubble Space Telescope has not yet imaged them to reveal their full beauty.

William Keel, an astronomer at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa who was not affiliated with the research, says he knows of only one remotely comparable galaxy: the equally large but less luminous UGC 2885, a spiral galaxy in the constellation Perseus. “One [galaxy] is a pet rock; ten is a statistical sample,” Keel says. With more than fifty super spirals now known, astronomers hope to learn how these enormous entities arose.

“That’s the biggest puzzle,” says Debra Elmegreen, an astronomer at Vassar College not involved with the discovery of the super spirals. “Why are they there? Why aren’t they already ellipticals?” Elliptical galaxies can grow huge because they often occupy the busy centers of galaxy clusters, where they gobble other galaxies. Spiral galaxies prefer quieter, less populous neighborhoods; moreover, galactic collisions usually disrupt the delicate spiral galaxies and transform them into amorphous ellipticals.

Still, even normal-sized spiral galaxies can outshine their giant elliptical counterparts in star formation, which mostly occurs in a spiral galaxy’s gas-and-dust-packed arms. The super spirals are no exception, and are prodigiously producing stars by converting between five and 65 solar masses of gas into suns each year. For comparison, the Milky Way’s rate is just two solar masses a year. Spirals can sustain their star-making over eons by grabbing additional gas from intergalactic space. As a galaxy grows more massive, however, that infalling gas crashes in so fast it heats up to tremendous temperatures that inhibit star formation. So a spiral galaxy should only get so big. Yet, somehow, the super spirals keep on growing.

One clue to their origin may come from the finer details of their architecture. Four out of fifty-odd super spirals have double nuclei, suggesting that each of the four arose from the merger of two smaller spiral galaxies. Normally a spiral-spiral merger makes an elliptical galaxy, but if two spirals approach each other just right—with their disks parallel and both spinning the same direction—the pair can join forces to create an even larger spiral galaxy. In support of this idea, two of the super spiral galaxies harbor bright quasars at their centers. A quasar lights up when gas plummets into a galaxy’s central supermassive black hole, a process often triggered by a galactic merger.

Ogle says the super spirals will eventually fade over billions of years as they run out of gas and cease star formation. He suspects each will become a so-called lenticular galaxy, a cross between a spiral and an elliptical: Like a spiral galaxy, a lenticular has a disk of stars, but like an elliptical galaxy, it has too little gas to give birth to any more, and lacks spiral arms. Long before the super spirals suffer this fate, however, an armada of telescopes is sure to scrutinize them to settle once and for all how these beautiful objects managed to grow to such colossal proportions.

Colin Kaepernick And Our National Anthem

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Unfortunately, the nasty, racially tinged, political atmosphere has decended on the 2016 professonal football season. Wealthy African-Americans in all professions, including football, should extend a helping hand to their people, but what he has done, and he is protected by the First Amendment to say whatever he wishes, is clearly counter productive.

CONSTITUTION
GodfatherPolitics.com
August 29, 2016
“49ers QB COLIN Kaepernick Learning Fans Don’t Appreciate His Hate For His Country.”
Late last week San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick decided that he could no longer stand up at attention when “The Star Spangled Banner” was played at games. This is because, he said, the U.S. is evil and filled with racists. Only hours passed before millions of fans let Kaepernick and the 49ers know just what they thought of his anti-American statement.

The player’s recalcitrance was at first ignored by both the national media as well as the national sports media. As Breitbart News reported, immediately after the game no one in the sports media asked Kaepernick nor coach Chip Kelly why the player was not standing during the playing of the anthem.

But not long after the post game media was over, fans showed they noticed what he did as the game began and tongues on social media users began to wag. The pressure mounted quickly and likely expecting to be congratulated for his “bravery,” Kaepernick soon explained why he did what he did.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick explained to NFL.com. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

What ever Kaepernick thought the reaction should be to his actions, it seems the management of the 49ers understood a public relations mess was brewing. Immediately after the game the team quickly issued a public statement about the incident.

“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

With this the team tried to have it both ways. By defending the anthem and celebrating its patriotism yet fully supporting Kaepernick’s right to be hateful of it, the team thought it had covered all the bases.

Of course, 49ers management is certainly right. The Constitution itself maintains that each of us have a right to our opinion and all of use are guaranteed our freedom of speech. But few Americans question that right. And, in fact, every Kaepernick detractor has the exact same right to criticize him for attacking the National Anthem and to decide they don’t want to patronize the San Francisco 49ers because of it.

The fact is, those who despise what Kaepernick did also have the right to burn his jersey, apparently, and a trend quickly began on social media showing disgruntled fans doing just that.

One enraged fan who seems to have started the jersey burning trend was Louisiana resident Shane White who posted a video to his Facebook page slamming the player and then burning his jersey to the tune of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

White wasn’t alone. Other fans joined him showing their anger by burning Kapernick jerseys.

Jersey-burning fans weren’t the only ones showing their anti-Kaepernick sentiment. Other upset fans took to their social media to make suggestions about what the player could do with himself.

The The Daily Mail, for instance, noted that one fan advised the player to move to Canada while others were more colorful with their suggestions.

One of the best retorts to Kapernick’s anti-American sentiment was posted to Twitter by Nick Short who added a photo of Marine Sgt. Zachary Stinson of Pennsylvania. Along with the image, Short added a caption reading, “Kaepernick refusing to stand for natl anthem is his right. Here’s a Marine, who can’t stand, because he defended it.” The photo shows Sgt. Stinson lifting himself out of his wheel chair as the National Anthem plays. You see, as it happens Stinson lost both of his legs above the knee in an IED attack in Afghanistan in 2010 and he is no longer able to stand for the anthem.

This is all rather interesting for the fact that Colin Kaepernick, born of mixed race parents who abandoned him, was adopted by a white family and given all the advantages a child could be given. Even as he claims that America is so racist that minorities can’t get ahead, he nevertheless seems to have done quite well for himself.

His quixotic behavior is writ large across his own Twitter feed. Despite his privileged upbringing, if one looks at Kaepernick’s Twitter account one is confronted with post after anti-American post filled with race-baiting and support for Black Lives Matter. Further, looking at his social media photos with the way he dresses it seems he is a young man who fancies himself a gang banger of sorts.

Whatever demons are driving him, Kaepernick’s fans are not pleased, to say the least, but the national sports media apparently don’t take their marching orders from the fans. The sports press did belatedly begin to cover Kaepernick’s anti-American sentiment after the firestorm had ratcheted into high speed. But almost to a man the opinionists of the sports press showered Kaepernick with high praise, agreed with him that the U.S. is racist, and patted him on the back for his “bravery.”

One imagines none of them asked Sgt. Stinson about what real bravery is all about.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time recently that a bi-racial entertainer went to extremes seemingly because he is guilty over his privileged lifestyle.

In yet another case, bi-racial actor Jesse Williams uncorked a rant to end all rants on Black Entertainment Television in June. Instead of delivering an acceptance speech for the award he was given that night, Williams jumped into a controversial harangue in which he characterized this country as unalterably unfair to blacks and insisted all white people as permanently racist — including, presumably, his own, white mother.

Humor and Politics by Andy Rooney

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

Now for a little humor laced with a great deal of politics. It was sent to me by my good friend, Jerry Marks

Andy Rooney was one in a million. At the end of ’60 Minutes’ he usually had
his own 10 minute segment that, unbelievably, was never censored by CBS.
He’s probably the only one who could have gotten away with this. May he rest
in peace.

“I don’t think being a minority makes you a victim of anything except
numbers.. The only things I can think of that are truly discriminatory are
things like the United Negro College Fund, Jet Magazine, Black Entertainment
Television, and Miss Black America.
Try to have things like the United Caucasian College Fund, Cloud Magazine,
White Entertainment Television, or Miss White America; and see what
happens……The “Reverends”, Jesse Jackson, accompanied by Al will be knocking down your door.

Guns do not make you a killer. I think killing makes you a killer. You can
kill someone with a baseball bat or a car, but no one is trying to ban you
from driving to the ball game.
I believe they are called the Boy Scouts for a reason, which is why there
are no girls allowed. Girls belong in the Girl Scouts! ARE YOU LISTENING
MARTHA BURKE?

I think that if you feel homosexuality is wrong,
it is not a phobia, it is an opinion.
I have the right ‘NOT’ to be tolerant of others because they are different,
weird, or tick me off.
When 70% of the people who get arrested are black, in cities where 70% of
the population is black, that is not racial profiling; it is the Law of
Probability.
I believe that if you are selling me a milkshake,
a pack of cigarettes, a newspaper or a hotel room, you must do it in
English! As a matter of fact, if you want to be an American citizen, you
should have to speak English!

My father and grandfather didn’t die in vain so you can leave the countries
you were born in to come over and disrespect ours.
I think the police should have every right to shoot you if you threaten them
after they tell you to stop. If you can’t understand the word ‘freeze’ or
‘stop’ in English, see the above lines.
I don’t think just because you were not born In this country, you are
qualified for any special loan programs, government sponsored bank loans or
tax breaks, etc., so you can open a hotel, coffee shop, trinket store, or
any other business.
We did not go to the aid of certain foreign countries and risk our lives in
wars to defend their freedoms, so that decades later they could come over
here and tell us our constitution is a living document; and open to their
interpretations.

I don’t hate the rich; I don’t pity the poor.
I know pro wrestling is fake, but so are movies and television. That doesn’t
stop you from watching them.

I think Bill Gates has every right to keep every penny he made and continue
to make more. If it ticks you off, go and invent the next operating system that’s better,
and put your name on the building.

It doesn’t take a whole village to raise a child right, but it does take a
parent to stand up to the kid; and smack their little behinds when
necessary, and say ‘NO!’

I think tattoos and piercing are fine if you want them, but please don’t
pretend they are a political statement. And, please, stay home until that
new lip ring heals. I don’t want to look at your ugly infected mouth as you
serve me French fries!

I am sick of ‘Political Correctness.’ I know a lot of black people, and not
a single one of them was born in Africa; so how can they be
African-Americans’? Besides, Africa is a continent.
I don’t go around saying I am a European-American because my great, great,
great, great, great, great grandfather was from Europe.
I am proud to be from America and nowhere else, and if you don’t like my
point of view, tough…”.

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG,
OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ,
AND TO THE REPUBLIC, FOR WHICH IT STANDS, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE,
WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!

It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God. Therefore I have a very hard time understanding why there is such a problem in having ‘In God We Trust’ on our money and having ‘God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance. Why don’t we just tell the 14% to BE QUIET!!!

____________________________________________________________

A February Rant

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

February is the shortest month, although a “leap year” with one more day. And I’ve done nothing to discuss the awful situation we are in, at least as I see it. Frankly, it’s too discouraging. But, here goes. How is it, that this once great, wealthy democratic republic can’t come up with even one person of intellect, maturity, and honesty to run for president of the United States? What a group of shameful, avaricious specimens have come forth to lead.

The Democrats: Sanders, an old man preaching socialism or communism or anarchy, I’m not sure which and I suspect neither does he. If he’s elected, the United States will file for bankruptcy within the next five years or sooner. And Hillary Clinton? An old felon, formerly Senator and Secretary of State who has exposed United States government secrets, its intelligence, to hackers all over the globe in order to have information put on her private computer (clearly a felony) so that she could have an easy way to funnel large sums of foreign money into the Clinton Foundation; responsibility for the deaths of six people in Benghazi and lied about these tragic deaths to the victims’ survivors; and much more too long to discuss at this point.

The Republicans ––– initially 16 dimwits and fools and one pediatric neurosurgeon, and now down to four dimwits and one neurosurgeon who should know he’s through, but refuses to accept the reality. And who’s leading this group of dimwits? None other than “The Donald” Trump ––– a fat, bombastic, television star, hotel/gambling mogul and insulting machine, who understands almost nothing about dealing with the crucial issues of the day such as 10-20 million illegal immigrants, our rapid fall into certain insolvency, a psychotic healthcare system known as ObamaCare foisted on us by our present delusional president whose 8 left-leaning years governing the nation he really despises, has been one major reason we have been dumped into our present, almost science fiction dystopian world, and so very, very much more.

But, all is not the fault of politicians. They only help propel our decaying cultural lives ––– the crass, disgraceful music; all manner of drugs; the selling of baby body parts; the degrading films out of Hollywood filled with lurid sex and electrifying violence; the increasing gap between what Peggy Noonan calls the “protected” and the “unprotected;” the overt violence against women and the elderly; the utter decay of our public schools (only +/– 20% of young people know there are three branches of government!); the slow and frightening hell that is our cities at night; the predatory hedge funds that sent millions of people out of their homes to live under the bridges in 2008; and the decay of religion in our lives, the hope that sprung from our faiths seems to have abandoned us; and there is so much more that grabs at our throats, too long to even try to define.

And the world outside ––– the Middle East, Africa, Europe ––– bubbling cauldrons of hate, war, disease and human suffering. And Our failure to lead there.

I see little hope that this nation will turn itself around, be led back to a more sane and congenial state where what is right and moral and good returns to our civil life and allows us once more to lead the world out of this awful morass of the early 21st century. Happy 2016!


William S. Frankl, MD, All Rights Reserved