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From The *Somewhat Twisted* Mind Of Dulux-Oz

Solar Power - Part 1

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Norbert Parkinson’s childhood was not outwardly exceptional, but his early experiences must have influenced his later maladaptive development; there are hints that he was shy, reclusive, and prone to reading too much. It was in early adolescence that his illness first became apparent to the trained observer, and this coincided with his taking up the intensive playing of so-called “role-playing games”. Recently, his psychosis has become manifest and he lives in a world occupied by elves, goblins, dragons, evil wizards and diverse other fantasy figures…

Dr. Daniel Feizenbaum read through the case notes again. A sad story; an academically promising young man, with the promise of possible brilliance. Perhaps, he thought, I should look at some of these role-playing games to give me some common ground for psychotherapy with him. He checked his crowded diary and decided to settle for the liquid cosh instead. At that moment his staff nurse – Scottish, red-headed, very attractive and exotically obsessional – stuck her head round the door of his office after giving the usual reverential knock.

“There’s a Mister Basil something to see you, doctor.” Upon learning that Mister Basil something had an appointment, the doctor imperiously waved an invitation to send him in. The nondescript little man in the shabby Burberry coat shuffled in and sat down. The nurse went hack to preparing depot injections for the patients.

“Mr...? I don’t think I caught your name.” He smiled with the professional unctuousness characteristic of the more liberally inclined psychiatrist.

“Baazerath, actually. Do you mind if I unpolymorph myself?” Feizenbaum casually looked down at the hypos and bottles of major tranquilizers. This was no ordinary fruitcake. When he looked up again, the chair opposite was occupied by a figure some 12 feet tall, with leathery wings, nasty-looking fangs and big talons, gently exuding wisps of smoke and a pungent sulphurous odour. Feizenbaum considered using a hypo on himself at this point.

“Oh, I wouldn’t do that. Long-term use causes brain damage, you know; burns out your mesocortico-limbic circuits. Permanent Feeblemind job. Not recommended.” The devil took a box of cigars from a stout pouch at its belt, lit one with a delicate fiery snort, sat back and inhaled deeply.

“I am not seeing this.”

“Of course you are – don’t be silly. In case you don’t know, I am a Pit Fiend, and I have what at this stage we may call a request to make”. There was a strong undercurrent of threat in the voice. Feizenbaum reached for his desk telephone, but the clawed hand swept it away from him, on to the floor. The claws then unleashed a single horny digit, pointing directly at him.

“I said a request. It will be much better for you if you co-operate.” The devil gazed at the sagging figure opposite, who sat sadly repeating “this is a hallucination” over and over, rocking slightly to and fro. Baazerath took another drag on his Havana and thought for a moment.

“This is a shock for you, I see. Perhaps I can… ah… soften the blow a little; it might make you feel a little less disturbed about things”, the devil said considerately. Feizenbaum broke off mumbling and stared at him. “Perhaps”, the devil continued, “a little epistemology might comfort you.”

“You think I’m a hallucination. Well, that depends on how you look at things. There are, more or less, three ways of understanding what’s going on in the world. The problem with people like you is that you’re one of the first type: people who believe that there is a real world which can be discovered as it really is through science and experiments and all that crap. Technically, this philosophical posture is known as naive realism but in the infernal regions we refer to such people as idiots. You know the sort; computer scientists, physicists, the type you treat for the chronic neuroses which arise from their sordid little emotional repressions. Boring aren’t they?” Feizenbaum nodded mute agreement, but felt mounting disbelief at being lectured on philosophy by a hallucination.

“Sorry, disbelief only works against illusions and I’m not one of them. Now, where was I? Oh yes, the second lot. Well, they’re the florid mutters who believe that material reality is an illusion, true reality is spiritual, the world as Maya and all that nonsense. They’re the fantasists. Of course, you give them the really heavy pharmacological arsenal whereas the idiots only get the minor tranks. Pity, really, because the fantasists are at least more amusing and less dangerous – they weren’t the ones who invented biological and chemical warfare, atomic weapons and all that stuff. On the other hand, at least the idiots don’t force dead flowers and luridly coloured hooks containing the half-wilted writings of émigré Indian gurus on people at airports.” Baazerath looked with mild displeasure at the rapidly diminishing cigar. “The quality’s gone down since they ousted Battista, you know. Ah well, that’s the Prime Material for you.”

“Now”, suddenly leaning forward and with a definite edge to his voice, “things get interesting. The third lot are epistemological interactionists. That’s a hell of a long term – no pun intended there – so we can call these people the wise guys. Some of the wise guys consider there is a real world of sorts, but it’s not directly knowable, and its nature is in some manner influenced by the construction of it made by the human mind. With me so far?” Another mute nod. “So, in some way, major changes in dominant theories of the nature of the world actually alter the world – or reality, if you prefer that dubious term. And they’re right, of course. Which brings me to my request. Norbert Parkinson.”

“Norbert Parkinson?”

“Yes. Strange as it may seem, Norbert Parkinson is a Reality Mutant.”

“What the hell is a Reality Mutant?”

“Droll little joke, doctor, but a trifle redundant to my previous usage. Well, Reality Mutants are people capable of producing major changes in dominant theories of reality and thus affecting it over a period of time. Newton was one – the idiots got him – then Einstein, obviously, and Freud to a lesser extent. Now, after Tom Cruise, there’s young Norbert”.

“Tom Cruise?” A shriek of disbelief.

“Oh, yes indeed. Perhaps you do not realise that for every 100 hours of watching the… ah… entertainment he hosts the viewer permanently loses one IQ point. The cumulative effects of this on consensually perceived reality may be quite impressive eventually. Of course, it’s not his fault directly; perhaps we can refer to that fine fellow as an Indirect Catalysing Reality Mutant.” Feizenbaum was completely slumped in his chair by now, glazed eyes staring vacantly at his desk. The devil continued its remorseless attack.

“But Norbert Parkinson – now he is a major Reality Mutant. In fact, he’s the most powerful Reality Mutant your world will ever know. Norbert has an unparalleled knowledge of role-playing games and he will invent a game so utterly and completely compelling that the nature of reality will shift, because the game structure and the currently perceived structure of reality overlap so insidiously that after a while nobody will be able to tell the difference. Get the picture?”

“I… I think so.” Feizenbaum was still in a state of shock. “But – aren’t you a thing from a game?”

The devil smiled happily. “Yes, that’s what most people think. The process has already begun, but Norbert Parkinson is the only person who can complete it. You must release him. You have 24 hours to consider my request. If, after that time, Norbert Parkinson has not been released, I’m afraid I shall have to put a Wall Of Fire under your chair, and since you’re only a second-level shrink, that’ll be the end of you. Make an appointment for me for the same time tomorrow, will you? I must teleport off now.”

The devil vanished, leaving behind only the smell of fire and brimstone, singe marks on the chair, and the stub of a Havana cigar smouldering in Feizenbaum’s ashtray. The psychiatrist cancelled his appointments for the rest of the day, went home, and consumed a generous quantity of Polish raw spirit.

*****

Continued in Part 2

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Updated April 8th, 2016 at 06:03 by dulux-oz

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