Thursday, April 22, 2010

[Mythos X] Sacrifices of Blood and Soul

With apologies to HP Lovecraft, Stephen King, Charles Stross, and Peter Watts. Copyright 2010 Thomas James Hardman, Jr, all rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. References to real places and things may be included but their usage is fictional in nature and intent. Any similarity to real persons or parties is coincidental and should be seen as fictional in nature and intent.

Perhaps you'd like to jump back to the previous chapter?

Near Aspen Hill, Maryland, a slowly-decaying "core suburb" of Washington, DC, is a long strip of park land which is all that remains of a major highway which was tentatively planned in the 1960s, yet which most likely will never be built.

A special amendment to the Constitution of Maryland -- ostensibly in response to then-Governor Robert "Bob" Ehrlich's purported plans to sell a part of what was then State Highway Administration property to be developed by a firm purportedly owned by a political ally -- converted the former highway right-of-way into Matthew Henson State Park. Maintenance and development rights were negotiated and eventually, after much political infighting and neighborhood activism, the park was equipped with a hiker-biker trail running from end to end.

Generally inaccessible by automobile, for most of its length this is a very pleasant trail through recently restored parklands, running along a tributary to Rock Creek, itself a tributary of the mighty Potomac River. This tributary, in the modern day, is known as "the Turkey Branch of Rock Creek", or simply as "Turkey Branch". However, research into the land-use history sees this stream branch as "the Watery Branch of Rock Creek", and it's easy to see why when you look at historical maps and read deed references.

Maryland is a land of no naturally-occurring lakes, very old terrain indeed, characterized in most parts by deeply eroded yet fairly wide stream valleys, long broad ridges of hilltops, and fairly steep inclines leading from the hilltops to the stream valleys. Yet here in Aspen Hill, we see a sort of natural bowl, with long hillsides of very gentle slope. If there was not good drainage, it would be a most excellent swamp. Yet the many natural branches of Watery Branch provided that good drainage, and the original bed of the confluence streams was rocky and slowed the erosion that has turned most of this part of Maryland into a jumble of undercut hillsides looming over the beds of streams which swell immensely during cloudbursts and the infrequent hurricane. In the watershed of the Watery Branch, for the century before the developers came and buried the former berry farms and fallow-woods under concrete and asphalt, this was a fertile farmland with dozens of tiny rivulets and spring-fed minor creeks, many of them both watering and draining at least a thousand acres of farmlands that gave this place the old Census name of "the Berry District". All of that water has to go someplace. and eventually the smaller streams merge into three main branches and they themselves merge into Turkey Branch, or as it was formerly known, the Watery Branch.

Yet when you walk the length of the hiker-biker trail from west to east, you climb a significant hill, and when you've crossed it, you've crossed the watershed divide between Rock Creek and the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River... and soon you will come to Bel Pre Creek.

Most people are unaware that Aspen Hill has, within Montgomery County, one of the most violent histories of despicable crimes.

Best known, of course, are the string of murders which were the work of the notorious Aspen Hill Snipers. People minding their own business, going about their day, were suddenly struck down from afar. A sort of quiet panic ensued, with many people being extremely cautious about doing anything outside. Rumors of the involvement of a "white box truck" being associated with the killings caused massive traffic jams as County police stopped and searched every last mid-sized delivery truck they could find. Eventually, of course, the range of these killers expanded to cover most of the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area, and eventually the murderers were captured at a highway rest-stop near Frederick, Maryland, and eventually John Allen Muhammad was executed by lethal injection in the Commonwealth of Virginia, November 10, 2009, in the matter of the capital murder of Dean H. Meyers, who was shot down in Manassas, Virginia.

Yet for most of their reign of terror, they seemed to have set their sights square on Aspen Hill.

Wikipedia map of sniper attacks

Their final (known) victim was Conrad Johnson, shot down in the County bus he drove, as he warmed up his engine in the morning to start his service route. A small memorial stone and plaque -- and a rather larger and better maintained floral shrine kept up by friends and family, mark the spot where he was murdered.. in central Aspen Hill's North Gate Park.

Why Aspen Hill?

We cannot tell you why, but we can tell you what, and when, and where, and in most cases, whom. We maintain a list of high-profile crimes in Aspen Hill from 1970 on. By "high profile", I mean "horrific". Some of these are right out of some textbook of horror, and the more you look into them, the stranger the tales surrounding them.

In 1975, one Kathy Lynn Beatty was found, beaten and unconscious, in a ditch behind the local K-Mart store. Taken to hospital, she never recovered consciousness and died from her injuries some days later. The case remains unsolved, despite many long years of speculation, conjecture, and follow-up.

Some suggest that locals had to be responsible, and others have suggested -- plausibly -- that this might have been the work of convicted pedophile and murderer Fred Howard Coffey, who was, in this timeframe, working at Vitro Labs, now BAE Systems Subsurface Weapons division. This theory is considered widely supportable yet local investigators are in no way convinced. Alternatively, a less circulated theory posits the potential involvement of John Brennan Crutchley, sensationalized in the Florida media in 1985 as "the Florida Vampire Rapist". Coffey remains in prison yet is not cooperative with investigators; Crutchley died in prison in 2002, supposedly of auto-erotic asphyxiation.

Interestingly, Crutchley was employed, in the DC area in the mid-1970s and later in Florida until the time of his arrest, by weapons-systems contractor Harris Corporation. He's not particularly infamous in the DC region, where even most police investigators have never heard of him unless they've read certain classic textbooks such as the memoir of Robert K Ressler, known to posterity as "the father of serial-killer profiling". In that memoir, Ressler conveys his deep unease about both the known facts surrounding Crutchley, and the probably orchestrated lack of facts surrounding damning circumstantial association to Crutchley of a long string of unsolved heinous crimes and assorted highly suspicious disappearances. Yet despite Ressler's suspicions, the only major crimes for which Crutchley was ever convicted were rape and kidnapping, and even that was a plea-bargain arrangement to escape from a drug possession charge and a charge of "grevious bodily harm". It might be alleged that Crutchley was so easily persuaded to accept the plea bargain because that would be the course of action that would most quickly end direct official inquiries. Shortly after his arrest, various Federal agencies were contemplating charging him with espionage. At the time of his arrest, he was in possession of a wide range of highly-classified documents and materials... weapons-research, and rocket science.

Noting the association of possible culpability for Kathy Beatty's murder with defense-contractor employees, and the fact that both of these possible suspects later were convicted of crimes including rape and in the one case, vampirism, and in the other case, murders of children, one might wonder what it is about defense contracting that seems to so populate the industry with violent bloodsuckers and baby-rapers.

I suppose that it could be some sort of symptom of a moral disconnect which might be somewhat unavoidable when your career consists of collecting decent pay and excellent benefits for showing up every day for 30 years to assist in designing weapons of mass destruction. In the timeframe under discussion, US and Soviet tactical and strategic armaments largely consisted of intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple independent re-entry vehicles ("MIRV") with each war-head carrying a throw-weight of about 160 megatons of thermonuclear destruction targeted in such a way as to likely cause as many as 20 megadeaths.

I mean, seriously, if you're capable of thinking things through -- and few people can think things through better than can engineers -- if you accept the moral responsibility for enabling the potential destruction of tens of millions of lives (and in those days, with our policy of Mutual Assured Destruction we expected to kill far more than a mere 10 millions), what's a little hobby of committing a string of individual murders by comparison? Keep in mind that I personally subscribe neither to the notion that it's okay to kill one or a dozen people at a time, nor that it's okay to obliterate civilization as we know it, or even some small part of it.

Remember, I got dragged into this kicking and screaming (at least they tell me that's what I was doing before I got knocked unconscious) when poor Anabel had her epiphany and tried to use an inhuman calculus involving my blood and her equations to speed and enhance her downloading of a final communion with and possession by some eldritch horror from beyond the bounds of our familiar four dimensions.

When something like that happens, generally you wind up with a somewhat limited palette of options for your future. I suppose I could elaborate them for you with mind-numbing detail, but the Astute Reader will figure it out for themselves, and anyone else could probably never understand.

Yet try reading the memoir of Robert K Ressler, specifically his excellent Whoever Fights Monsters.

There are cops on the beat, and cops on the street, and cops in the office and cops in their libraries of documents, evidence, and files. I am not a cop, nor would I particularly want to be one; in most cases, they are overworked and underpaid and it seems that no matter how much trash you pick up, the next breeze that comes along will blow more into your bailiwick. Then again, there are also the folks who like to play "armchair detective". And there are also librarians, and historians, and many other factions as well, who know that there are crimes which are beyond the law which remain crimes nonetheless, and are major ones.

"Whoever fights monsters", runs the passage from Nietzsche, "must take care to not become one. For as you gaze into the darkness, also the darkness looks into you."

The darkness can't look into me, not in the way it did to poor Anabel -- of whose fate I have heard nothing -- because of a minor brain injury. I can't do certain kinds of math, at least not in the ways the darkness has evolved to exploit. And I'll never feel the rapture from beyond, not even if you jam my head into one of those so-called God Helmets, and I know this because people have actually tried that. Yet another evolutionary side-show that the darkness has evolved to exploit is something I just don't have.

John Brennan Crutchley alleged that he was introduced to the practice of consuming human blood in Silver Spring Maryland, by a nurse circa 1970, as "part of a sexual ritual".

Rituals that involve sex are of ancient tradition in the pagan religions all over the world, and most of those invoke the powers of Life, of fertility, of procreation, and sometimes even of mere Peace and Love. Of course, as the mystics would say of magick and scientists would say of thermodynamics, "you get out of it what you put into it". Rituals involving sex to the invocation of love are well known, see also the widespread traditions of deflowering after marriage and the honeymoon. Yet as with all things, there is with a bright side also a dark side.

Rituals of blood are also of ancient tradition. For example, it's why the independently-arising literate civilizations of the Western Hemisphere built immense stone pyramids and dragged victims in their thousands to the apex and ripped out their beating hearts.

Thankfully for us, we the living humanity, these ancients didn't get their equations quite right, didn't quite supply the requisites of the technology required to punch through the veils between worlds and they also didn't quite understand the geometry. Their math was quite good, and unlike any others, the Mayan priests used a numbering system highly appropriate to developing the close-coupled tunings required to dig deep into the interstices that permeate the quantum froth down near the levels of the Planck Length. Yet although their math was really quite advanced, it was still prehistoric compared to that of our own day, and it couldn't lead to the elaboration of the Kaluza-Klein interpretation of dimensional analysis.

In effect, the Mayans might be said to have spent the wealth of empires on their own Manhattan Project, without ever realizing that you need to try to react with uranium, rather than with lead, and having failed to realize that and subsequent dependencies, totally mis-designed their implosion system. Somehow they got the idea, to continue the metaphor, that if you pumped enough energy into the initiating klystron, you could overcome the minor difficulties encountered in making a nuclear fission explosive device without any actual fissile material. Hence the rivers of blood spilled down the pyramids, rivers of blood that entire captive nations were sacrificed to provide.

That the Third Reich had absolutely no such comparable failure in mathematics is well-covered elsewhere.

Where the Mayans had their massive stone geometry, where the Egyptians had their pyramids, where the Nazis had a poorly-geometrized yet otherwise highly-energized system for Summoning, we had our elegant Masonic layout of streets and squares, circles and triangles, parks and plazas, and monuments engineered in ancient and arcane mechanism of alien repellant known as Washington DC. We and the Allies also had excellent bombers and ground forces -- not to mention all of the mathematicians and physicists -- needed to both prevent the Nazis from properly geometrizing the Summoner, and to develop weapons which may have had their origins in the study of secrets man was not meant to know and use, but which partook nothing of those things concealed within those secrets.

The Holy Qur'an informs us that Iblis (better known to Christendom as "the devil") has no real power in this world, other than "whispering and lies". It seems true enough; when the Adversary described in Scripture means to physically harm Job, he must ask permission of the Almighty and himself takes no action.

Ancient lore which comes from even before the Prophet Muhammad ("praise be unto him") tells us of the Djinn, which were created as intelligent and self-directing beings from "smokeless fire" even as Mankind were created of clay. And these beings of electrical energy prefer the deep deserts, of course, as St Anthony could tell you, though the Saint did not know that in their most basic form, the Djinn are destroyed by simple water which disrupts their structure of harmonic fields of static electrical charges. Yet even in the presence of water, the Djinn may persist, with the aid of metal and insulators in appropriate arrangements. The Djinn is not captured in any ordinary bottle... but rather in a Leyden Jar.

The Qur'an speaks of the Djinn as reasoning beings. Yet how long would you remain rational if you were captured in a featureless jar made of glass and metal foil? How long might you remain rational if you were caught up in metal strata embedded in insulating quartz?

So let someone tamper with the matrixed quartz we see so often marking the bounds of local land tracts, and what may they release?

Boundaries, lines in the earth, imaginary in the mind's-eye and not really there. Yet those boundaries are terminated with "planted stones"... and around here, those planted stones are of a quartz deeply stratified with very fine strands of metals such as copper, silver, and even trace amounts of gold.

When the Aspen Hill snipers shot down Conrad Johnson, he was parked in his bus at North Gate Park.

In 1975, the spot where Conrad Johnson would be parked was second-growth forest a mere stone's throw from where Kathy Beatty would be found unconscious. As best I can tell -- I am not certain of where exactly she was found, though I believe the publicized descriptions give me a very good idea -- both the 1975 and 2002 incidents were directly on an imaginary line drawn between the third and seventh lines of a tract of land called Garter Lost. The ends of those lines describing the bounds of the tract were, and perhaps still are, marked with planted stones of quartz.

It gets even stranger: in 1986, a mysterious and unsolved hanging occurred in the woods near Garter Lost. The hanging death of Keith Warren was written off as a suicide, but this unsolved case has so many puzzling loose ends that this verdict has been challenged all across the board, being televised on "Unsolved Mysteries".

Later in September 1997, one Alfredo Enrique Tello was murdered by two 17-year-old co-workers. They dismembered his body and tried to cremate it, and left the blackened remains in the garage of a vacant house down the block. Less than a stone's throw away? Very old planted stones of quartz, terminating lines of a part of a larger tract of land once known as "the Earle Tract".

Back in 1905, for some reason, Mr George H Earle, Jr, a wealthy scion of a rich Philadelphia family and a wealthy banker and lawyer in his own right, began buying up lands in the area. By 1907 or so, he owned a very large swath of lands in central Montgomery County.

After this hideous murder -- suspiciously near large quartz pre-development boundary marker stones -- Samuel Sheinbein fled to Israel where he was later tried, convicted, and imprisoned. His accomplice in the crime, one Benjamin Needle, would later hang himself in his own cell.

But wait! there's more: In mid-November of the same year, 1997, at the Aspen Crossing Apartments, one Tyree Dwayne Echols raped and murdered one Kacey Brown in front of her children and on top of her boyfriend Christopher McCallum, attempted to kill McCallum but somehow managed to barely miss any fatal spots with his shotgun blast, and robbed them both on the way out. And where exactly are the Aspen Crossing Apartments? A stone's throw from the place where Kathy Beatty had been found, and where Conrad Johnson would later be shot... and mere yards from a large boundary stone marking the beginning of the 4th line bounding Garter Lost.

One the far side of Aspen Hill, there is another boundary stone. At least we know where it was; plat maps from subdivision indicate "stone found" in the southwest corner of the map.

That stone marks the corner between two large tracts of land, each of nearly 5000 acres, which were later subdivided. To the east of that stone lie the more northerly Bradford's Rest tract as well as the more southerly Hermitage tract. Those are seen divided by that nearly west-to-east line near the bottom of the plat map, a line which is prominent in many deeds of land title in the area, named in such as the "West line of Hermitage".

In January of 2001, one Sue Wen Stottmeister was raped and beaten to death in Rock Creek Park by one Albert W. Cook Jr, age 25, according to his plea of guilty on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree attempted rape, kidnapping and two sex offense charges. He also plead guilty to kidnapping and attempted rape for a subsequent attack on another of his female neighbors... which is how anyone even found out that he lived here. Cook, who claims to have been instructed by unseen voices to attack women, had been hiding out in the basement of a house on the corner of Arctic Avenue and Aspen Hill Road. It seems that he always came and went by sneaking out of the back door of his house, and following fence lines into nearby wooded areas, and from there would travel through the park.

The boundary lines of the elder land tracts are with us still. That back lot fence line which Cook used to sneak along was once the original Aspen Hill Road, built as a market-to-mill road in the early 1860s at the behest of wealthy local farmers and the miller himself, a wealthy and influential man in his day. The road was relocated as part of the subdivision and development in 1952.

And in the northeast corner of the lot, planted in the ground mere feet from where Albert W Cook Jr laid his head at night to sleep, was another stone, a large one, a stone marking a centuries-old boundary between lands and once on the side of a vanished road, a stone of quartz.

In the modern day, relatives and friends of Sue Wen Stottmeister have made a little shrine of the place where she was found, and the Parks people have put up little benches. On warm spring days between the time when the snows melt and the mosquitos emerge to scourge before them all things warm-blooded, youngsters and even young families gather there, attracted by the tranquil scene and benches, probably not knowing where exactly is it that they gather. For if you extend the West line of Hermitage beyond Hermitage itself, it exactly crosses the place where a madman acting at the behest of unseen voices obeyed their commands in an hours-long ritual of blood and violent sex. And not yards away, although not this time of quartz, another large and strangely carven planted stone.