ENCRYPTED FILE FOUND IN A DESTROYED LABORATORY OFFICE IN SAN CIPRIANO, MARCH, 2019:
I am typing the words you are thinking, and as you read them, you are thinking them again.
You just thought that again.
Come on, that’s funny!
There’s no need to be scared. This is just what a human brain can do if you have the right talent.
There are three exits in the room, four if you count the window, why would you count the window? You aren’t going to jump, are you?
Excuse you! No, I didn’t hear it; I felt it, because you felt it. Better out than in!
I wasn’t born like this. I know some of us are born with the powers. Mine showed up after the man next door asked me to help him in his garage one afternoon. He didn’t need my help. He just wanted to be alone with me.
You’re right. He isn’t okay now. But he isn’t dead, either. I wouldn’t do that to my mom’s friend. I’m not a monster.
Come on. I’m not a monster.
You don’t even have to ask me questions. I’ll answer them as soon as—
We do know about each other. Us, the ones you call Haruspex. A lot of us do. Not all.
I never met any of the others until they brought me here to study me.
You guys always try that, the studying thing. You see where my brain lights up on your instruments and you try poking there to see if it makes my powers work or stop. It does nothing. You try it again.
You don’t seem to be learning very much.
The only reasons the drugs work is because they either make me too sleepy or too confused. You don’t even know what to do to shut my powers down.
You’re right! I don’t know, either. I’m human, I’m telling you. I’m just like you. Except for, well, you know. So if you don’t know these things, neither do I. But if you did know them, I would know them, too. I also have the ability to learn, just like any other human being.
David, the man my mom knew in college, who lived next door. You know, the man who asked fourteen-year-old me to help him in his garage? He’s in a really weird condition and you don’t know what’s happening inside his head. He just sits there catatonic and sometimes he talks in voices and drools. You haven’t got a real diagnosis for him yet.
If you’ll agree to turn the thermostat up in here, I’ll tell you what’s going on in his head.
Why would I lie to you? You know I can’t move things with my thoughts! That’s the one you keep in the cell down the hall! Okay, the room. The room down the hall. She can move things with her thoughts. You know I can’t.
So come on in here and help me out. I’m cold. I’m in a hospital gown.
Thank you. So, David. He’s scared of rats. And he had an imaginary friend when he was a little boy. The friend was named Robbie. They used to play in an empty house down the street. I think that would be sometime in the 1980s. But what do I know, I’m “a stupid kid with ESP!”
I’ve heard you think that. It’s okay. You only say it when you’re scared of me or tired of emptying my bedpan. You could let me go use the toilet instead, if I could still walk. Are you guys ever going to undo the straps?
Right. Back to David and Robbie.
When David did that thing to me in his garage, I snapped. Instincts kicked in. I reached into his mind and grabbed anything I found. I didn’t even know what I was doing! But there it was…
There was kid-David and his friend Robbie and they were in that house down the block, just fuckin’ around like usual, but now there were no doors and no windows. No exits.
David couldn’t find his way out. The rats came. Lots of them. Hungry.
He ran away on his little boy legs, which weren’t too much like his middle-aged man legs from when he was making me suffer on his washing machine, and he hid inside a closet in the old house. Robbie was a little too slow. David listened while Robbie screamed and screamed.
Yes, all this was inside his mind. Just thoughts in his mind. His body was standing in a dark garage on a hot summer day with his pants around his ankles, trembling.
He was trembling while he spent hours inside his brain in just a few seconds.
He gave just one long scream when the scratching at the closet door died and he thought he was letting Robbie in, saving him from the rats, but now Robbie was… also a rat.
That doesn’t make sense, does it? He was eaten by rats, but now he was a rat-boy himself? You ever notice how a nightmare feels like it makes sense even when it doesn’t make any sense at all?
They found me in the garage with David when he screamed. They realized what had happened but they couldn’t understand why he just stood there, trembling, soaked with cold sweat, only just whispering this little-boy babble every so often.
I had been in the garage with him for about twenty minutes. They found us two minutes after he screamed.
For David, it had already been about three weeks as kid-David, trapped in that closet, eating whatever Robbie and the rats slipped him under the door. It’s been a couple of years for him by now.
But he’s not dead. I didn’t kill him. I can tell you he’s still in there. He is not just a mass of random thoughts and feelings. That would be too… that would be wrong.
Yes. I appreciate you fixing the thermostat for me.
Anyway, David will probably be that way forever. I mean, unless somebody else does something to lead him out of that old house in his head, why would anything change?
I could be this way forever, too, I guess. You’ve kept me here long enough that my body is really messed up. But you’re only studying my brain and my thoughts with your caveman machines. You see the lights light up and you think about the tiny increments of progress.
I’ve been strapped to this bed for months. I can’t walk or sit up now. Please.
No, you’re not just a caretaker! You’re a scientist. Junior scientist, whatever they call you. You have your “hypotheses.”
Let me help your studies. You know David is like a thousand miles away from us right now in his hospital, don’t you? Yes, you do. Call them up and ask what he’s doing. Right now. You have the number on your phone. Call. Good, thank you.
That’s right. He said his name and asked where he was, before he went “back inside” again.
You know how I know. I let him out. I did it to show you. I wanted you to know that my powers don’t have a “range.” That’s not how we “Haruspex” work. It’s not distance, it’s focus. Distance is just a word.
That’s right. No one is safe. But you can help protect them by studying us. Do you think you can learn about us fast enough? Will the little lights flashing on my brain in your TV screen teach you how to protect everyone before it all goes wrong?
It doesn’t have to be this way. I could help you. I just taught you something useful for once. Distance means nothing. I’m new to my powers. Imagine what you could learn if you worked with—
I heard that.
I said I’m a human being. You’re not betraying humani- --
Okay. I will try to stay as calm as somebody can when they’ve got more needle holes in their arms than a heroin addict. It hurts to lie here in this bed all day, every day. I hate staring at the ceiling. I hate being a drugged-out zombie. And you keep acting like this.
Oh, you’re scared? No fucking shit. I’ve been listening to your subconscious mind shit itself every time one of your pathetic co-workers tells you about something spooky “one of the Haruspex” did. You try to look so fucking brave, and by the way, she’s never going to suck your dick, you asshole, no matter how Big Science Hero you try to look in front of her.
Ha ha. Yes, I can read her mind, too. Isn’t that funny?
Ooh, you noticed that my pulse rate and blood pressure are spiking, thank you, Dr. House, you are a problem solver. I’ve been trying to be reasonable here! You keep picturing me as some kind of brain-monster! I look like this because I’m being mummified alive with your drugs and your straps and all these fucking wires! I’m suffocating here and nobody knows where I am!
That’s right! Mom can’t hear my thoughts! Isn’t that FUNNY?! Aren’t you TAKING NOTES?!
I DON’T KNOW WHY!!
I SCREAMED FOR HELP FOR WEEKS WITH NOTHING BUT MY MIND AND NOBODY HEARD ME BUT YOU ASSHOLES! NOBODY!
And… I don’t know why and… you don’t know why.
You want to learn from me. They’ve never told you anything about what the knowledge will be used for and you don’t care. So I can’t read that in your mind. None of you care what your science will be used for. You’re just happy to have a good job, something for your resume and “rewarding subjects of study.” You did tell your wife what you’re doing. They made you sign a release and swear you wouldn’t even tell her, but you did anyway. Eff why eye, they knew you would do that. They “took precautions.”
Oh, wouldn’t you like to know? Isn’t it too bad you don’t want to “betray humanity” by working with me?
I could be lying. That’s right. I could be lying.
Since you think I’m a monster, I’ll tell you something else you don’t know. There really are monsters. It’s not just “prominent local bullshit” like you laugh about with the other dweebs down at the sports bar where the friendly Chinese spies pay your buddy to narc you all out. Oops, there’s another secret from mind-reader girl!
No, really. The San Cipriano bullshit about Ghosts and Vampires and things, that’s not bullshit at all. They are real. I’ve only ever brushed up near their minds. It’s like running your hand along a wall and your fingers slide into a hole full of swarming, crawling bugs. You jerk your hand away and run, shivering. There’s even some… some kind of magicians… fear-magicians… they tried to talk to me once. And there’s more.
They’re real. I could help you find them, but you’re busy studying me. Asshole.
I know. I could be lying. But you know I’m not lying about this:
You’re afraid of disease. Germs. You don’t just hate bedpan duty because you hate wiping our asses. You say it’s “beneath you” to do nurse chores. But you’re really terrified of some little bacteria or viruses, or maybe tiny fungus or parasites. You push those thoughts away, don’t you? The idea of this spreading stain of horror and death seeping across your skin and into your blood…
You’re already sweating. Cold sweat.
I’m not a monster. I’m going to give you time to think about all this. You don’t even have to erase all this shit you’re typing. Yes keep typing, he typed as she thought the typing into his typing mind.
I just want you to think about David and his friend and the rats in his mind. Imagine being inside your own head for a year, or forever, with what you fear the most. That red-brown fungus fur that grows all over your back, just out of reach…
I could even talk to the others, like the fat man who uses his thoughts to turn things to ice, or the old lady who dreams doorways to other worlds. Who knows what we might all dream up together? Haruspex. Gut-readers. We read your fucking guts.
You think we’re monsters. Everybody’s a monster if you tell them they are.
Yeah, you go home. Your bosses will understand. Your wife won’t, but I’m just the stupid girl with ESP, so don’t worry. Just go home. Pretend it makes a difference.
I’m always here. Strapped in my bed. You don’t have to come here. Or even call.
Just think of me.
Historically, a haruspex is one who divines the future by examining the bloody, steaming entrails of freshly killed sacrificial animals. In San Cipriano, the term Haruspex means seemingly ordinary people who have demonstrated uncanny psychic powers—the abilities to read minds or write thoughts into minds, to move objects or start fires or stop hearts, to feel others’ pain and alleviate or worsen it, to read the psychic impressions of the past embedded in objects or to look far away or into the future.
The word “Haruspex” was first popularized in this context by a book published in the 1990s. It was based on declassified federal documents from a joint military/intelligence/police program known as Project Haruspex. Designed to uncover the truth about bizarre psychic abilities (and, it’s rumored, to harness them for shadowy purposes), Project Haruspex came to a violent and unexpected conclusion. The details are hazy and the original documents largely redacted, but the authors of the book on Project Haruspex claim that surviving witnesses allege that some of the psychic test subjects of the program underwent severe physical and psychological tortures in an attempt to “trigger their powers.” They further allege that these attempts were all too successful, and that the maddened psionicists went berserk and escaped from the laboratory, leaving a horrifyingly grisly trail of blood and death behind them.
The book claims security video showed that the head of Project Haruspex was eviscerated alive by invisible force on the ceiling of his office, screaming as his blood flowed onto the walls to spell out the words: NOW WE ARE REALLY HARUSPEX.
The Haruspex are ordinary, random human beings in every other way than their extraordinary latent psionic powers. No normal physical examination (nor most magickal readings) can discern the ways in which their brains generate these abilities. They have all the same weaknesses and flaws of any regular person on the street, apart from their psychic capacity and one minor recurring issue.
This issue is the matter of their mental health. Although many Haruspex have seemingly stable personalities in virtually every way, all of them suffer from one or another kind of mental illness. Whether it’s OCD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, or far more dangerous impulses to suicide or homicide, all Haruspex are simultaneously psychically gifted and mentally ill to one degree or another. Many of them either have their illness under control or their powers in check (either because they don’t realize they have them yet, or because they repress them), but there is always the possibility that they will unleash their incredible abilities while in the full grip of their illness(es).
To the rest of the supernatural world, Haruspex are just ordinary, boring, edible humans until they manifest their weird mental powers. Then they become—depending on the creature they face—fearsome, or aggravating, or intriguing, or simply more delicious. And if a Haruspex should become a supernatural being such as a Ghost or Vampire themselves, the possibilities are potentially disastrous…