Mortimer Field was an artist with peculiar talents. I befriended Mortimer while working at The Institute for the Mentally Deranged (this was during the 1970’s when “deranged” was considered an accurate diagnosis). Mortimer was a patient. Two years after I met him, he disappeared. Soon after, I began to collect the stories he told me (I kept meticulous notes) along with his artwork and journals. His work has often been described as disturbing. I offer this collection of notes and stories to my esteemed reader for you to judge for yourself.
This story is about the day Mortimer Field saw a woman crossing the street. Mortimer said there was something annoying about the woman as if she possessed some insidious secret. She was heavy set. Her form seemed to be pulled forward by the ponderous swell of her stomach. Her face was like puckered dough. Her lips were like the flame of an acetylene torch and she wore large, gold frame sunglasses. She appeared to be in her late fifties. Her hair was like burnt roots sticking out from the edge of a pink bathing cap. She wore a fur coat that looked like automobile upholstery. A red-and-black muumuu radiated beneath the fur coat like an electric bulb.
She plowed across the street in a trance. Her brown hose slipped down over her heavy thighs. Mortimer became more and more agitated as he related his story. His voice squeaked with perturbation, “she looked at me,” he said, “suddenly she looked without pausing and without losing her heavy stride.” Mortimer wanted to scream. The woman was too familiar. He could see her eyes swimming behind the dark lenses in her glasses. They looked like eggs broken on a plate.
As he related the story he began to sweat profusely. He said seeing the woman made his skin tighten and his head ache as if his bony skull was about to break through the thin layer of flesh. He recognized the woman. He knew her. She was in the painting he’d just completed before leaving his studio for the street. She was the woman he imagined — she was solely his creation!
He was taken before the Supreme Justice, a computer with Artificial Intelligence copied from the brain of an infamous judge. Stories were told about a corrupt man who ascended to Supremacy. The Supreme Judge engineered the law and dictated the future world. Many people fell through the cracks due to human error. Unfortunately, Ozmodium-Garth was statistically viable, tracked down and arrested.
Ozmodium-Garth was the name he chose for himself. He thought the name implied authority, something he lacked. Oz wasn’t a happy man. He carried the burdens of the world in a paper sack chained to his wrist. He felt helpless. Events were happening faster than he could assimilate or understand; so, instead, he made up his name and invented a pseudo-life.
It all began with television. Oz was fascinated with the pictures on the screens and the stories that were told. One screen led to another and soon Oz was living in an artificial world. He could see the past, present, and future unfold on TV screens and he could participate as a player in Virtual Reality.
Oz became convinced he was a Time-Traveler moving in-and-out of multiple dimensions. He said prayers of thanks to the Large Hadron Collider for opening the doors to alternate realities. This was a driving fantasy, a compulsion, one among many that wore down the connective tissue in his cerebral cortex. His delusions were extreme and his behavior was unquestionably odd… links to the real world were unraveling.
Oz continued to experience unsettling moments of clarity when reality broke through his dream. They were painful realizations about his life and the typical world. He saw himself in a wheelchair frozen in limbo, unable to move. He was intimidated by diagnoses that flashed across the screens: Renal Failure, Osteoporosis, Lethargy. The room he inhabited was in a condemned housing complex. He was no longer able to think clearly due to the Collins Effect, the dumming down of the analytical function in the brain.
Ozmodium-Garth was a time-traveler from the 25th Century. He was a former Intelligence Officer with the British Foreign Service… he was currently involved in an investigation that would revoke history. He had evidence that would bring down a corrupt president. It was a dirty job. The evidence was blatantly pornographic.
Holes began to appear in the smooth, self-assured veneer of political espionage. Corporate entities chewed the evidence to bits. Countries were destabilized and elections rigged. Garth escaped to another time-dimension where he became embroiled in a crime of Future proportions.
Oz was self-contained in Virtual Reality. His room stank from the smell of formaldehyde. Death sat in the corner smoking a cigar as he evaluated the room’s occupants. They huddled together like refugees. Oz wore a VR suit, government issued. Most of the squatters had some digital connection or link. The new government supplied free wireless as a way to subdue the masses. Everything was propaganda.
Ozmodium-Garth was well-heeled in the Silver Moon Tower on the fifty-first floor. He was ensconced in wealth. He possessed all the accoutrements a citizen might need in the 25th Century. He recently experienced his 3rd Youth-Enhancement-Upload. Garth was in prime physical condition and ready for military action against the slightest whiff of indiscretion or protest. Still, he was troubled. “Why am I blue,” he asked the Siren Wind-Screen that led to the balcony. The screen sighed with the scream of a Siren. It wasn’t an answer… just a reflection of the moment.
Ozmodium was lonely… looking for love in the fountain of youth and finding only dregs. He drank and smoked to cope… he took pills to recover and survive another day.
During a momentary lull, the time-traveler opened the Kleaning-Kloset in his ultra-mod sky-box. Garth was startled by the light emanating from the closet. It was like a sign from the Illuminati saying, “here, in this humble cleaning-module, Ozmodium-Garth will find his true love.” The dramatic moment was offset by pictures on multiple screens detailing the deplorable conditions of squatters and immigrants from the Lost Century… what was real?
Back in the closet, Garth laid his eyes on the Immaculata-Smart-Vacuum with the svelte body of a stainless steel cylinder and the mega-brain of a digitized Einstein. Garth’s instant idée fixe had no bounds. He was overwhelmed with love for his appliance. The Immaculata could not reciprocate. “I have no love for you,” she responded to Garth’s entreaties and pleas.
“Please understand,” the Immaculata postulated, “I despise germ-infested inferior organisms such as yourself!” Blunt and to the point.
Garth was heartbroken. Law stated he could have any woman at any time, but not an AI. Immaculata was off limits. He retreated into his inner-sanctum with the sad eyes of squatters staring down at him from every screen. In sanctum he indulged in heavy amounts of chemical pollutants to magnify his hurt feelings and morph them into angry aggression. His blood boiled. The time-traveler was drunk with rage. He saw a mental image of himself confined to a wheelchair, out of time. It made him furious. Garth returned to the Kleaning-Kloset with a blow-torch and sliced the Immaculata to shreds.
The squatters and illegals were rounded up by Federal Police and hauled off to Debtors Prison where they were told to wait until the newly appointed Judge could lay down the law.
Garth was subdued when police arrived. It was a major crime to attack an AI. He would be brought before the Supreme Judge. The Judge could be viewed as prejudicial in this case because he was an artificial-intelligent entity, but he refused to recuse himself. He was the Supreme Judge — he made the laws and he was judge and jury.
Ozmodium-Garth was defended by a hacked computer with a low IQ. His defense was blacked-out: no information could be released to the public. Leaked memos indicated the defendant was in a black-out at the time of the crime. He had no idea what happened to the Immaculata. Garth stated he was as shocked and surprised as anyone once the crime was revealed.
The Supreme Judge chuckled. He was aware of black-outs, but he denied they ever occurred in nature.
In the end, the Judge actually felt a statistical affinity toward the man. He laid down a heuristic, palliative sentence. The man would become a machine. His brain would be removed and replaced with an AI, programmable module. It was the only cure for the troubled human race.
Valerian Bortta was fascinated by detritus, especially the parts of himself that flaked off his body like garbage. He was always leaving pieces of himself wherever he went; and he was always traveling — exploring new cities, countries, different time-zones and “other” dimensions. Valerian was a time traveler; but that wasn’t so unusual because everyone travels through time starting at birth and ending in death.
Valerian convinced himself that he controlled time — it was a delusion. In fact, Valerian Bortta was an ordinary man who simply and inevitably got old. He saw his life spread before his eyes as if peering through the wrong end of a telescope, everything appeared far away and very small.
He had no one who could take the pain of aging away, no one to soothe his tired body and overwrought emotions. His life had become frozen in amber, self effacing. His world was a crumbling relic.
Two lovers kiss on a beach. Their bodies glisten like melted butter oozing from lumps of boiled lobster
A young man and an old man kiss triggering a massive landslide that completely obliterates a small town known as “the village of the damned.”
A stranger stands erect on the other side of a door. He cannot be seen directly. His body glows with green fire.
A young man sits in a chair. He is naked — sobbing as he remembers a dear friend who suddenly disappeared.
A woman gazes at her reflection as it changes before her eyes from sweet innocence to embittered regret. Her body responds by breaking down into soft dollops of clay.
Valerian could not understand the language or the visions. It wasn’t his life. Nothing was real anymore. he was consumed with self doubt as he watched his body peel away, shaking off flakes of skin, nail clippings, phlegm, and droplets of piss. He could no longer hold his body together. Valerian wanted to split apart and pass silently into the still air.
Before he began, he was assured by Dr. Mortis that nothing would change. He would be returned safely with no harmful lasting effects. Valerian realized too late that nothing ever works out exactly as planned. There are always consequences — always a heavy price to be paid. Time was the focus of the experiments. Valerian Bortta paid the price: locked in a prison of immortality.
The tots were shot with amphetamines and sent out to play. “Speed” made it all happen: playtime for toddlers. The whole city was a reenactment of the old west. Parents taught children to be part of the action. Loving parents made costumes and helped kith-and-kin choose exciting roles to play based on western history. “Return to the good ol’ days,” was the government motto along with, “Teach ’em while they’re young.”
Every Saturday toddlers (ages two through five) lined up at the OK Corral. The boys wore cute, cuddly cowboy suits – the girls wore long, modest dresses like pioneer women. Some girls worked at the Swinging Door Saloon. A few “rough” girls totted six guns. All the boys had guns half as big as they were tall. It was an inspiring sight watching the tots bearing guns or rifles (dragging them on the ground as they tried to walk).
At high noon the action started. It was an enactment of an old cowboy movie. Two groups of toddlers faced off like rival gangs. Usually no one was killed. Toddlers are notoriously bad shots. For the most part, the guns were too heavy to lift; but each tiny tot tried. It was miraculous that any shots were fired at all, but even impossible feats occur when people have faith. That special kind of faith that Jeremy Finkel had when he was pushed into the arena at the OK Corral. Jeremy was small for a four year old. He shuffled into the street dragging his gun behind him. The opposing gangs were milling about, trying to start the gunfight but having a hard time lifting the guns. Jeremy was timid, but he had a fierce alter ego that wanted to be free. The other tots hardly noticed Jeremy as they were too busy with their guns. Jeremy’s alter ego decided to teach everyone a lesson and show them who was boss. He was smart … he hefted the barrel of his gun onto a boulder. He sat on the ground and took aim. He couldn’t pull the trigger so he wedged a stick inside the finger grip. The more he worked the stick, the more it pushed on the trigger. Suddenly his gun fired. Jeremy was knocked over, but the stick was wedged against the trigger and the gun was an automatic with an extra large cartridge filled with bullets (parents often fudged on authentic details because modern weapons were more fun).
When the smoke cleared, little bodies were scattered on the ground. Jeremy stood in the center of the street. He proved he was boss, but it no longer mattered. He felt a growing sense of remorse. He sighed, “so much killing.” Jeremy turned and walked toward the setting sun. He could no longer hold back the tears.