Tanzler powered up a gas-powered generator and in moments a naked electric bulb that Lovecraft had not noticed before began to flicker on. He adjusted some dials, and soon a large metal globe on top of a tall cylindrical column in the rear of the room began to buzz as little lightning bolts were created all around it. The buzzing of the coil was eerie in the pre-dawn silence of the room, and Lovecraft felt his hair standing on end. Whether that was from some effect of the electricity or his own paranoia, he didn’t know.
Lovecraft was a man of science, and ordinarily this spectacle would be pleasing to him. But he was in a strange town in a strange state, far from home, in the company of a German immigrant who was some kind of wizard, and who knew all about the Cthulhu cult and the missing file. He suddenly felt that he was out of his depth entirely, and wondered briefly if a Tesla coil could be used as a weapon. His knowledge of science said no, but for once science was not a comfort.
The surge of plasma seemed to form a satanic halo around the head of his host, a man already weird in appearance. Tanzler’s tiny eyes were
hidden behind a perpetual squint and those thick eyeglasses, but his beard seemed to take on new life. His glasses reflected the dynamic discharges so that it appeared his eyes were emanating rays in all directions.
After a few moments, Tanzler powered down the device and turned to his guest.
“You are familiar with Nicola Tesla and his work?” “Yes. Of course.”
“Then you are aware that he has been in contact with extraterrestrial forces?”
“I understand that his wireless receiver has picked up anomalous signals from space.”
“Precisely. There must be a source for those signals, an intelligence that is broadcasting them to our planet.”
“What is your point?”
Tanzler checked to make sure that his equipment was properly shut down and that there was no damage to anything in its vicinity due to the electrical arcs.
“The intelligence that Tesla discovered may, in fact, be the same intelligence that the Cthulhu cult claims to contact.”
This was getting out of hand. Lovecraft had come at this problem with a desire to find the root cause of his family’s insanity. He had stolen a file that contained clippings and reports on the existence of a group of people who believed themselves in contact with a fantastic and unbelievable creature who was a medium between the Earth and some stellar race. They believed this contact was in the form of telepathy, dreams, and the like, and could be accelerated or amplified through the bizarre, orgiastic rituals they employed. It was possible, only possible, that this had something to do with his family’s condition in ways that so far were not understood. If the cult was exhibiting some of the same symptoms then it was possible there was a psychological basis for the phenomenon. So far, so good.
But now this crazy German was telling him that there was a scientific basis for their beliefs: that instruments and devices might exist that would prove there was an intelligence lurking in the stars that was communicating with an entity here on Earth. He was getting too deep in the swamps of fantasy and paranoia, and longed for the common sense approach of Whitehead who saw arcane rituals for what they were:
exhibitions of mental disorder. There were no gods, no demons, thought Lovecraft. And quite possibly no Martians, either. There was only Man, in all his hideous brutality and stupidity.
But Tanzler was still talking.
“Your story about the reanimator. Herbert West. He used some of the same techniques that would be familiar to those who follow Tesla. You wrote about reviving a corpse, infusing life back into lifeless matter …”
“It was only a story, a tale of fantasy, my dear Count. And not one of my most successful, I am ashamed to admit. I meant no scientific claims, no assertion of superior knowledge. It was a work of the imagination.”
“As are all scientific discoveries, at first. Hasn’t Herr Einstein shown us the fantastical realms that exist in our natural world?”
“I am not sure I understand the point you are trying to make.”
“It is time I returned to my job at the hospital. Perhaps you would like to accompany me? You have not slept, and there are a few beds available. I can arrange a small room for you, if you like, for a few hours of sleep.”
That sounded acceptable to Lovecraft, under the circumstances, and it would save him some money that he would otherwise have to spend on a hotel.
The two men left the shack with Lovecraft’s suitcase in tow and made their way to the Marine Hospital where Tanzler worked. Lovecraft was wired, but exhausted. The spectacle of the Tesla coil in full operation was still with him, the spiny fingers of the arcs still glowing in his eyes.
They made their way to the hospital, but before they entered Tanzler gestured him to the rear of the structure where there appeared to be a disassembled aircraft of some sort with enormous wheels.
“This is one of my projects,” he told the startled writer. “I am fixing the plane so that one day I may be able to fly away from here. I am thinking the South Pacific. There is an island there I remember from the old days. A real paradise on earth!”
Lovecraft could only stare at the bizarre contraption, which looked as if someone lived in it. It was missing its wings, but the fuselage seemed relatively intact. There was no rear wheel, however, so the whole contraption basically was immoveable. Now he knew that Tanzler was truly insane.
They entered the hospital from the rear entrance. The presence of military insignia here and there reassured him somewhat; the Marines were the best of the best, in Lovecraft’s estimation, and he remembered how they had pacified the tiny nation of Haiti. That was one way to deal with savage cults, he thought at the time. This idea was now reinforced after the unsettling evening spent with Tanzler.
True to his word, the German “doctor” found Lovecraft a room and a narrow bed, for which the latter was exceedingly grateful. He collapsed onto it, and was asleep before he knew it.
Tanzler, who seemed not to need any sleep at all, was back at work in his radiology lab. When no one was around, he opened a drawer in his desk and withdrew a copy of a Home Brew magazine from almost ten years earlier. He opened it to the first installment of the Lovecraft tale, “Herbert West-Reanimator”:
…West had already made himself notorious through his wild theories on the nature of death and the possibility of overcoming it artificially. His views, which were widely ridiculed by the faculty and his fellow-students, hinged on the essentially mechanistic nature of life; and concerned means for operating the organic machinery of mankind by calculated chemical action after the failure of natural processes. In his experiments with various animating solutions he had killed and treated immense numbers of rabbits, guinea-pigs, cats, dogs, and monkeys, till he had become the prime nuisance of the college. Several times he had actually obtained signs of life in animals supposedly dead; in many cases violent signs …
This was the paragraph at the very start of the story that alerted Tanzler to the fact that Lovecraft was aware of the same theories of reanimation that he, Tanzler, had been espousing privately for years. As he read on, he knew that Lovecraft was writing an instruction book for him if he knew how to read between the lines.
Holding with Haeckel that all life is a chemical and physical process, and that the so-called “soul” is a myth, my friend believed that artificial reanimation of the dead can depend only on the condition of the tissues; and that unless actual decomposition has set in, a corpse fully equipped with organs may with suitable
measures be set going again in the peculiar fashion known as life. That the psychic or intellectual life might be impaired by the slight deterioration of sensitive brain-cells which even a short period of death would be apt to cause, West fully realised.
This was the key point. While Tanzler did not agree with West, the famous German biologist Ernst Haeckel, or Lovecraft that the soul was a myth, he did realize that the body had to be kept from decomposing if reanimation was to take place. One cannot play a melody on an organ if the pipes are broken. Certain nutrients and other chemicals had to be injected into the body both to retard decomposition and to counter the effects of dehydration and lack of life-sustaining vitamins. But there was an aspect of the treatment that neither Lovecraft nor his fictional creation Herbert West had included, and that was electricity.
The labors of Tesla, whom Tanzler fervently admired, had demonstrated the link between light and energy on the one side, and life itself on the other. Obviously, without that spark of energy there could be no resuscitation of dead matter, no matter how many elixirs or chemical nutrients were pumped into the body. Thus his use of electrical instruments in the attempt to cure his Elena of tuberculosis.
Her family, however, had other ideas. They did not trust him, in part because it was obvious he had romantic designs on the young woman and in part because his methods were … unsound. They were strange and horrifying, an affront to civilized medicine. Ironically, it was civilized medicine that admitted it had no cure for Elena’s condition; they just looked better at failing.
The combination of Lovecraft’s approach to revivification, Tesla’s electrical principles, and his own knowledge of modern instrumentation coupled with training in the occult arts meant that he had a greater chance of curing Elena or, failing that, of keeping her body viable long enough after death that he would be able to apply the full range of his medical powers to her in order to cleanse her body of the disease and then bring her back to him. How could she resist the man who had brought her back from the dead?
And how could Himmler resist one of his own agents who had demonstrated to the world that German science and ingenuity were superior to anything else on the planet?
As for the Cthulhu cult, they understood what Tanzler already knew: that even a god can be dead and alive at the same time. There is an invisible network of electrical impulses, insisted Tanzler, which connects human beings not only with each other but with beings and entities on other planes, on other planets. Those human beings who realize this and who exploit it will overthrow the established world order and replace it with one in harmony with the mysterious, telepathic instructions of the Ancient Ones.
Those who do not will be destroyed.
In his room, on his hospital bed, Lovecraft dreamed a dream of demons from space. If there are demons on the Earth, his dream seemed to say, then why not demons on other planets, too? If one can summon a demon with a book and a candle, which one actually appears? The demon of Earth or a demon from Elsewhere?
In his fitful, unpleasant sleep he saw a great, groaning Gate studded with the nails that had crucified the Savior of the Christians and it was being pushed open from the other side, even as a horde of small, dark men struggled to open it from this side. He knew the answer lay on the other side of that Gate.
As the Gate budged open the slightest amount, he could hear a sound from the other side.
“Help me!” spoke the strangled voice, one he knew so well. “Help us all!”
Lovecraft awoke with a start, wild-eyed and perspiring profusely. He tried to calm himself in the broad light of day, but it was no use. That sound … that hideous, croaking sound.
It was his mother’s voice.
Finally, the point is not to exercise a kind of physical constraint on blind or even imaginary forces but to touch minds, reinvigorate them, and discipline them.
—Emile Durckheim, The Myth of Primitive Psychology
Dwight Monroe was getting worried.
The old spy sat in his office outside Washington, D.C. and scanned the dispatches. The GPS chip was still sending out its signal so he knew Angell’s location to the city block. Unfortunately, the reluctant college professor was nowhere near a city block. He was in the back of beyond.
He didn’t make the extraction rendezvous as scheduled. The helo team would try again in twenty-four hours and again twenty-four hours later, as per pre-arrangement. If Angell didn’t show up for any of these scheduled pick-ups they would have to find an alternate way to make contact. The fact that his GPS was still sending a signal was only minimally reassuring, because his location seemed to be nowhere near the western border of Iran. It was, in fact, heading in the opposite direction.
Intelligence had come in from several sources on the ground reporting a firefight at the Towers of Silence in Yazd. That had to be Angell and his team. But that was twenty-four hours ago. Since then, no one knew what had happened. Worst case scenario was an interception by the Revolutionary Guard, but if the GPS was any indication Angell was on his way in the opposite direction from Evin Prison in Teheran. In fact, he was headed for the Afghan border.
He had been on the sat phone with Aubrey every few hours. The exhausted agent could report nothing of substance. He had no way of
getting in touch with the agent known as Adnan. As per Adnan’s training he and his team of Kurdish rebels used burner phones and they destroyed them after every mission. If Angell was making his way towards Afghanistan it could only mean that he was travelling with Adnan. Nothing else made any sense.
To make matters more interesting there were UFO reports coming in from the Iran-Iraq border region, right in the heart of Kurdistan. Monroe felt these had to be related to the super-secret stealth helicopter being used by the SOAR team in Baghdad, which had already made two trips across the border: one to insert Angell and the second to (unsuccessfully) extract him. Iranian jets would be scrambled the next time these reports came in, of that Monroe was certain. Iran had had its share of UFO sightings, one of which—in the 1970s—resulted in a general flap among their military. There were those in Iran, however, who believed that these “sightings” were really of American spy planes and drones.