"What Madness Is This?" Volume II: Prophecies in the Dark

OSWALD: THE CREEPING CHAOS - PART FOUR
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The covers on the overhead lights gave the white walls a blue tinge. The room smelled liked stale air, cigarette smoke, and hot electronics. It was March 20, 1942, five days after Chuck Oswald married President Steele's daughter Wyetta. The Supreme Chief of ORRA sat in a gray metal folding chair with a rather sparse level of rubber padding on the seat and took a drag off of a Billy Boy--his preferred cigarette of the non-cocaine variety. He sighed, feeling the nicotine buzz through his system. The desk before him was a whirring cluster of various types of audio equipment, operating on both reel-to-reel spools and a newer cartridge-type spool system invented by the boys in the GAR Research Office. With a flick of his finger, he sent burning embers and a dusting of ash into the plain metal ashtray beside his right hand. He picked up the metal cylinder next to the tray and cracked it open, revealing a reel inside. After a few moments of mounting and adjusting, he pushed the chrome playback button and listened to the pops and squeals before the audio began.

A stern and intelligent voice of an ORRA officer came to life over the large wooden speakers. Various meter needles shot back and forth as the officer said:

"The following recording dated 25th of February, 1941, is designated Level Z Top Secret by the Office of Racial and Religious Affairs, and is for the access of the High Command only. Unauthorized usage, transmission, or copying of this recording is strictly prohibited and punishable under Article D, Section 1, of the ORRA Internal Review Unit Handbook."

"Last I checked," Oswald muttered to himself as he snuffed out the cigarette in the ashtray and grabbed the nearby cup of coffee, "I am the High Command." A slight smirk escaped his lips.

"The following recording was confiscated from the office of former Supreme Chief Patton on May 1, 1941, by officers of the Internal Review Unit on orders of President Joseph Steele. Upon the President's orders, it has been archived as evidence for the continuing internal review and shall not be destroyed unless it's destruction is ordered by the same. The following recording was created inside the bowels of Castle Patton at Falcon Point, Miskatonic, upon orders of disgraced former Supreme Chief Patton, utilizing the cast of the popular syndicated talkiebox audiodrama "Zap Zephyr: 21st Century Pinnacle Man" against their will. It contains many blasphemies, heresies, and disgusting crimes against the state and the one true God, some spoken directly from the mouth of Patton himself."

Oswald loved Zap Zephyr deeply. The entire franchise was one of the saving graces of a miserable childhood spent as the guinea pig of private Phoenix Oil head doctors. Growing up, Chuck wanted nothing more than a career as an adult penning the scripts of the comic books and audiodramas, and maybe even authoring the pulp novella series. Even at this point in his life, he still thrilled to the adventures of Zap and his hearty Zed Force Crew and their fight against the evil alien Princess Momodo and a host of other disgusting alien beings. If it weren't for his obsession with pulp heroes, Chuck likely never would have actively sought out active duty service during Manifest Climax. As he took another sip of his coffee, he sat back and listened to the tape.

Announcer: "You are listening to ZAP ZEPHYR: 21ST CENTURY PINNACLE MAN. Tonight's episode, 'PINNACLE CHAOS,' has been brought to you by Supreme Chief Patton. We hope you will enjoy this ad-free drama. As always, ZAP ZEPHYR stars CUTHBERT CLAYMORE as ZAP ZEPHYR, GWEN BECKETT as PRINCESS STAREENA, CHUCK LEWIS as SKIP HANCOCK, GEORGE TURNER as MARTY CARTER, MILLI SMYTHE as PRINCESS MOMODO, as well as the various members ZAP ZEPHYR DRAMA TEAM as the wide, wonderful galaxy of characters in the 21ST CENTURY. We join our hearty Zed Force crew aboard the Excelsior as they search for new alien lifeforms...."

Chief Engineer Marty Carter (Turner): "No signs of life on this moon, Zap! In fact I'm not scanning any life-forms for at least twenty-five space-knots. I say we skipjump into the next system and try there. The... Qexotal System, it seems to be called."

Zap Zephyr (Claymore): "Very well, Marty. Skip, that sounds like a job for you!"

*electronic noises and the sound of keys and buttons being switched*

First Mate Robert "Skip" Hancock (Lewis): "Aye-aye, Zap! Setting course for the Qexotal System. Making the jump in three... two... one..."

*electronic beeping and revving sound effects, followed by a high-pitched blip*

Announcer: "Our HEARTY ZED FORCE CREW find themselves in the mysterious Qexotal System, one of the darkest and most shadowy recesses of the known galaxy. Truly only a place for the MOST PINNACLE of adventurers!"

Princess Stareena (Beckett): "Zap, you look so heroic in that red suit of yours. The boys back at the Academy would should see you now! I can feel your ichor vibrating through the ectoplasm from here."

Zap Zephyr (Claymore): "My dear blue woman of Pinnacle alien breeding, come closer and feel the spark of life from Zap's lips."

Princess Stareena (Beckett): "Oh, Zap..."

*kissing sounds*

Zap Zephyr (Claymore): "I cannot wait to bring you back to the New Jerusalem to introduce you to my folks. What will they say when I return with an angel of the stars?"

*thumping noises*

Zap Zephyr (Claymore): "Did... did you all hear that?"

*vocalizations of the negative variety from the crew*

*thump*


Zap Zephyr (Claymore): There! There it is again! It sounds like something hitting the outside of the Excelsior! What in blazes?"


*further negative responses, as if Zap alone hears the noises*

Princess Stareena (Beckett): "You work so hard, Zap, but even the most Pinnacle of men need a rest. Why don't you join me for some cocaine and we shall commune with the spirit world? I have a spirit board right here."

Zap Zephyr (Claymore): "No! What sort of devilry is this, woman?"

*Sound of Zephyr slapping Stareena across the face*

Princess Stareena (Beckett): "But It wants to speak to you, Zap."

Zap Zephyr (Claymore): "Who does? Speak the Atheling's English, female!"

Princess Stareena (Beckett): "The Crowned and Conquering King. Come, join me, Zap, darling."


*thumping grows louder*

Zap Zephyr (Claymore): "There! You boys have to have heard that! It's shaking the whole ship, by Jev!"

Announcer: "OUR HEARTY HERO realizes that all the men of ZED FORCE are gone, vanished into thin air. Over the next few minutes, Princess Stareena plies our intrepid adventurer with decidedly unsafe levels of Boogie and cocaine lozenges. Her voluptuous blue body, petite yet athletic, writhes and undulates in her silver skintight bodysuit. Her blonde hair floats in the low gravity of the Excelsior as our hero realizes they are somehow alone with whatever lurks outside the ship."

ORRA narrator: "The following scene has been censored by order of President Steele. This section of the program explains how to modify a warded spirit board to commune with dark forces, as well as step-by-step instructions for summoning harpees, bugaboos, and daemoniacs into this world. The actors sound incredibly strained and demented, and numerous interruptions of what sounds like actual physical beatings can be heard, likely as the actors are forced to perform the rituals by Patton and his fellow conspirators."

Princess Stareena (Beckett, holding back sobs): "As I give you my body, Zap Zephyr... give unto The Crowned and Conquering King your soul. For in the eon that is to come, The Faceless One shall hold thee aloft over all."

Zap Zephyr (Claymore, clearly terrified out of his mind): "I... I can't resist the power. It is all-encompassing. My fluids writhe, wriggle, and pulse inside my veins. I can feel... the ancient power that is to destroy everything."

Princess Stareena (Beckett) (voice cracking unnaturally): "Zap Zephyr, in the Helter Skelter that is to come, you shall be my herald. A trumpeter of the final note. All the world shall be but food for The Worm, and My Maw Will Run Red!"


*Stareena vocalizations in strange tongue*

ORRA narrator: "The following scene has been censored by order of President Steele for its disgusting nature and demonic presence."

Announcer: "As our heroes gaze in ecstasy out the window of the command bridge, a monolithic creature wraps itself around the Excelsior like an enormous python. It is a gleaming creature of rusted, ancient scales and hundreds of thousands of spine-like teeth. It has no mouth, and yet all its body speaks. It has no eyes, but yet it sees all. It does not move and yet it crushes the Excelsior like a tin can, sending rivets and pipes and tabulatics flying away in the low gravity."

Patton (as The Worm): "Behold! You have struggled for answers, and so I have come to answer them. You have shed blood in my name, whether you knew it or not, and so you are mine for eternity. I take many forms--this is but one. Your Republican Union is another. The Angel of Destiny. The Prophet Burr. All of it is but a reflection of the truth which I reveal to you now. Wealth, knowledge, power, adoration--all are yours for the taking, so long as you take your place as my greatest servants in the days of Helter Skelter to come. In days gone by, I forged a pact with your Pinnacle Race to serve my throne and kill in my name. I am The Worm, The Crowned and Conquering King of this Age of Blood amongst the stars, and you are my Chosen People. Profess your loyalty to me and become my greatest champions in the holy war to come, or suffer for eternity as your soul withers in the Void of my 13,000 stomachs."

Zephyr (Claymore) and Stareena (Beckett) *both screaming* "No! It can't be true! The Worm cannot be the founder of the Union. Jev Himself is our God."

Patton (as The Worm): "Think what thou will, but even Jev, your so-called god, is but another facet of my formless majesty. I shall flay this universe and stitch myself a flesh-coat from the tanned dermis of all living creatures and feast upon your moon and sun like they are but small grains of sand. The Worm is waking, and all shall fall! All the works of Man shall crumble in the New Eon! Join now, before it is too late! America, renounce Christ and bow and worship the one true Crowned and Conquering King! After all, you are already halfway there."

ORRA narrator: "The following recording has been censored by the order of President Steele, for its disgusting and horrific heretical content."

"Join us NEXT WEEK for the exciting conclusion of 'PINNACLE CHAOS.' Will Zap and Stareena pledge their souls and minds to The Crowned and Conquering King? Will they taste the victory of welcoming The Faceless One into their hearts? Or will they reject their one chance for eternal power by sniveling under the sign of the Cross? Find out NEXT TIME. Same WORM CHANNEL, same WORM TIME."

ORRA narrator: "During the period in which Patton tried to record a second episode, he was slain before his troops for treason by order of President Steele, and a raid by loyalist ORRA officers on Castle Patton found the cast of Zap Zephyr bound and gagged in a room filled with occult and supernatural artifacts, in particular Patton's crystal skull collection. Claymore seems to have suffered momentary insanity from gazing for over forty-eight hours into the empty sockets of the skulls. All actors were badly beaten and many were missing fingers or worse. Claymore was found to be missing his right hand, an apparent real-life reward for his refusal to accept The Worm into his life in the drama. President Steele has ordered the archival of this recording as part of the evidence in the ongoing clean-up of ORRA and Union High Command of Wormist traitors. End of recording."

Chuck Oswald finished the last sip of his coffee and set the ceramic mug down. This wasn't the first time he had listened to the recording, and it wouldn't be the last. Upon Patton's execution, the recording was broadcast by Uncle Sam's Talkiebox Station by an apparent group of Patton underlings, resulting in sheer panic in the audience. Nationwide, parents marched in the street, demanding Zap Zephyr be removed from the airwaves for teaching witchcraft and promoting diabolical heresy. The liberated cast and crew, battered and bruised and maimed, had to live under around the clock protection lest they be lynched. Only after Oswald announced to the nation that Patton had been executed for treason did they realize the disgraced cripple had kidnapped the crew and forced them to perform the disgusting play against their will. All copies, save the one reel currently being placed back in the metal case by Oswald, were ordered and presumed destroyed.

After jotting a few notes down in his notepad, he remembered once more just how much Zap Zephyr had meant to him.

***

The covers on the overhead lights gave the white walls a blue tinge. The room smelled liked stale air, cigarette smoke, and cleaning products. It was July of 1926, and nine year-old Chuck Oswald sat on a wooden chair in the corner of Phoenix Oil company physician Dr. Parson Davis' office. He didn't understand fully what was going on, but in between trying to focus on a ragged copy of Zap Zephyr #9 he could make out ideas and concepts being discussed between Davis and his father Joe Oswald, Sr..

"He's useless, Doc. Absolute weakling. All he wants to do is sit around reading schlock stories and living in fairyland," Joe said to Davis from across the doctor's old-fashioned Lincoln-era desk. The doctor, a man about as old-fashioned in his appearance as his desk, stared at Chuck from across the room, his cold blue eyes squinting behind spectacle glasses. He wore a white, double-breasted tunic with a mandarin collar and his bald head was framed with a large set of grey mutton-chops. Chuck tried to avert his gaze by burrowing deeper into the Zephyr adventure. But he knew the old man was sizing him up like meat.

"That is to be expected of a boy in his health, Mr. Oswald," Davis said bluntly. "He has asthma and irregular seizures. These ailments would stunt the greatest of sportsmen, let alone a nine year-old boy. It is no wonder why he persists on spending time on such childish things."

"Hell, Doc," Joe continued as he sipped a gin and tonic the doctor had served him earlier from a nearby cabinet, "The kid can barely rub two sticks together to make a fire and my older boy Junior is running marathons and climbing mountains. I run a tight ship and a Pinnacle family and I don't tolerate useless eaters or embarrassments. No, sir. If I can't get him to start pulling his weight of the family name, I don't know what I'll do. Can't you do anything, Doc?"

"Sterilization is always an option, Mr. Oswald. I believe it is something you could consider. If he is not able to pull his load now, what in ten years when he will be of child-rearing age? Sometimes you must weed the garden, so to speak. And I'm sure you are aware of the '24 Fluidal Clarity Order. Boys like him are not as rare as you think. And if I determine that he is not capable of siring children of Pinnacle capabilities, then we could, uh, 'fix' him as early as next Tuesday."

Chuck didn't know of President Steele's 1924 Fluidal Clarity Order was. He didn't know of the thousands of young children just so far who been taken into doctor's offices and walked out incapable of ever experiencing the magic of parenthood one day. He just knew that Zap Zephyr was tied up in the lair Dr. Nutter on Planet Z. His bright eyes scanned to the next panel of the black-and-white comic, printed on yellowing cheap pulp paper. He tried to focus on the story therein, with the insidious red-haired Irish space criminal hooking Zap up to all manner of machines, trying to break his spirit and renounce his loyalty to God and Country, to renounce what it was to even be a Better.

"Zap Zephyr, me boy, I have all eternity t' use the Discombobulator 9000 on ye. Just tell me Jev is a lie an' t'at ye spit on t' Star Spangled Banner, boyo!"

"Never, you disgusting Irish monkey-man! I would sooner die then submit to your demented Irish psuedo-science, Dr. Nutter!"

Chuck looked up from the comic once again and thought Dr. Davis looked rather like an ape with the muttonchops and flat, ugly face.

"But that is not our only option, Mr. Oswald," Dr. Davis said, finally turning his eyes away from Chuck and flipping through several papers on his desk. "Ah, yes!" he exclaimed, apparently finding the one he was searching for. "A tool rather like an icepick in nature is shoved here," he said, pointing an aging finger at his tear-duct, "And up under the eyelid. It pops through the most fragile part of the skull and penetrates the frontal lobe of the brain. It renders the patient almost vegetative, open to any suggestions, and ends their suffering. You could then wash your hands of the boy and institutionalize him without fears of violent or defiant outbursts, and it would likely solve the seizures as well."

"I don't know, Doc. You really think that could be the best option?" Joe asked. He finished the drink and set the empty glass down on the desk.

Davis reached over with a small amber bottle and began filling the glass again. "Only? No. Electro-shock therapy! Henry Marx perfected it so many decades ago after his arrival to America. It was a game-changer. I don't know how much you know of Medical Marxism and the modern field of phrenology, but to provide a cure for such unfortunate maladies as outbursts, hysteria, and homosexuality was a marvel of the age. Even today, it's still performed every day by physicians all across the states. I have no doubt that it would at least ease the lad's seizures. The bad news is that it would likely entail a long period of near-constant treatment. It is so expensive that most families opt for the lobotomy treatment instead, but I recognize that a man of your position isn't likely to be timid of costs, but I know you value your time. The Dr. Calvin John Featherston Memorial Mediplex in Boston is the best electro-shock facility in America, and they are discreet with the handling of the children of wealthy and famous citizens. You could sign a few papers today and we could have your boy on a flight into Boston tomorrow."

In the end, Joe Oswald indeed signed the papers that essentially signed his rights to his boy away to the Featherston Memorial Mediplex Sanitarium Ward. Within twenty-four hours, young Chuck was being strapped into a wheelchair by orderlies in white blue suits and caps and pushed through the doors of the Featherston Electro-Shock Lab, where a young, sandy-haired doctor in a white coat not too different from Dr. Davis' tunic stood waiting. The only decoration on the plain walls was a painting of several men in old-timey clothing performing some sort of surgery on a man's head before a captive audience.

"Greetings, young man," the doctor smiled. "I am Chief Physician Dr. Israel Putnam. But you can call me Dr. Put-Put like most of the children here." He hunched forward with hands on his knees to acquire eye level. "You are Charles Oswald, but I have been told you like to be called 'Chuck.' Can I call you Chuck?"

Chuck sniffled and sucked up snot as tears ran down his cheeks. "I want to go home. I want to go home. I hate it here."

Dr. Putnam chuckled lightly and said, "Home? You are home, Chuck! Your family cares so much about you! Your pop-pop told us to make you comfortable and let you live here as long as it takes to get you better! So for now, this is home, Chuck! We all just want to get you better."

"But I'm not sick!" cried Chuck, struggling uselessly against his bonds. "I don't like sports! I like being by myself in my room and my dad wants me to do fancy parties and learn about money and I hate it!"

"What about your seizures, Chuck?" Dr. Putnam asked, getting down on one knee of his pin-stripe pants propping his elbow up on the other knee, his hand resting inquisitively on his chin. "Do you sometimes stop thinking and then wake up where you don't know where you are or what has happened? Sometimes you can fall that way and hurt yourself!"

"I don't know!" Chuck spat balefully. "I just don't feel good sometimes. Like now! I just want to go home and read!"

Dr. Putnam's face reminded Chuck a little of George Washington's, but with modern hair and younger. He had a large nose and a wide, flat mouth that curled into a grin that would have been disarming if Chuck hadn't been strapped to a chair in what looked like his own personal lair of Dr. Nutter, about to be tortured. "I like to read! I read the Four Books of Manifest Destiny! And all sorts of Shakespeare and Byron. And my medical textbooks, of course! What do you like to read, young Mr. Chuck?"

Chuck sucked up another snot bubble and replied, "Zap Zephyr: 21st Century Pinnacle Man!"

Dr. Putnam laughed. "I'm afraid that sort of tripe is not of your father's liking. A lad of your stature and import should be reading economics and geography and physics! But you know what? I like Zap Zephyr, too. A little pulp in the diet is not fatal."

"You... you like Zap Zephyr?" Chuck asked, his teary eyes big as saucers.

"I do!" laughed Dr. Putnam. "Sometimes, after a long hard day of fixing people, I just want to relax with a good story and my imagination. Tell you what, chief! You help me help you, and I'll make sure you have all the Zap Zephyr books and comics you can ask for! I'll even give you sweets!"

"My father doesn't let me have sweets. He says they aren't good for the fluids," Chuck replied.

"What your father doesn't know won't hurt him! It'll be our little secret, eh, Chucky?" the doctor ran his hand through the boy's mop of brown hair playfully, as if they were playing tag on the front lawn instead of waiting to do Jev only knows what in a stark white laboratory filled with scary machines. After about another hour of conversation and promises of comics and sugary delights, Chuck was hoisted by orderlies onto a gurney and strapped down once more. Dr. Putnam took what seemed to be a sort of petroleum jelly and smeared it on Chuck's temples. He then reached for a nearby chrome lever and a massive set of steel balls on what seemed like concentric stacks of rings forming two cone shapes lowered from the ceiling. "Alright, Chuck! I want you to put this in your mouth for me and bite down as hard as you can!" Dr. Putnam inserted a rubber guard into Chuck's mouth and the boy, terrified, did as he was told. Putnam wheeled around on his heels and yelled at a woman in a white dress sitting at control panel of some sort. "Alright, nurse! Raise voltage to level one!"

There was a loud hum of machinery and then a sense of impending doom. Young Chuck's world went black.

The next year was spent at the Sanitarium Ward. Every two days, Chuck received electro-shock, of varying intensity. While his padded room was filled to bursting with Zap Zephyr books, his head was often throbbing too severely to read them, but he still attempted. Dr. "Put-Put" treated him like he was his little buddy even while he legally tortured him for twelve months, even going so far as to nickname Chuck "Chuck-Chuck," to match his own odd sobriquet. When 1928 rolled around, Chuck was a changed boy. He was totally and utterly devoted to following Dr. Putnam's orders. If he disobeyed, he would be hosed down with cold water by the blonde, smiling attractive nurse who always seemed to be lurking, but never spoke. He awoke every morning at 6 am for intensive calisthenics and then followed that with ten hours of studying economics, geography, civics, history, math, and science, in between his electro-shock treatments.

When Joe Oswald, Sr., arrived in January of 1928, it had been over a full year since he had last seen his son. He was impressed by the boy's change in behavior and actions. He was building muscle and was able to lift weights almost half his size off the ground. When he had decided the time was right, he walked into Chuck's cell and said, without greeting or fanfare, "Pack your things. We're leaving."

As an orderly raised the iron gate and allowed the Oswalds to depart that night, Chuck told his father, "I missed you, Dad." His father's silence as they got in their black and white 1925 Dyno-Motors Stretch-Coach spoke volumes. While Chuck realized he would never earn the love of his father, he would do whatever he had to to make sure he never ended back up with Dr. Put-Put. And one day, no matter what it took, he would kill that man. And Dr. Davis, too. He would kill them both. Chuck-Chuck would never forget.

***

Chuck removed the Zap Zephyr reel from the spinner and put it back in its metal case. He sighed and leaned forward onto the desk, clasping his temples with his forefingers. "Damn headaches," he muttered.

An adjutant in a crisp blue and gold uniform entered the room and snapped to attention, raising his arm in salute. "All hail! Your Excellency, the officers are in position. Should we tell them to move?"

"Yes. Yes," Chuck said slowly. "Execute the mission, Captain. Inform me of the outcome as soon as you can."

"So let it be written, so let it be done!" the young officer prclaimed as he reversed out of the room, spinning on his heels and leaving Chuck to his thoughts and headache once more.

***

An excerpt from the Thunder Bay Times, March 23, 1942, Obituaries Column:

"Dr. Parson Davis (born October 10, 1868), originally of Toronto, Ontario, died last week of natural causes. He was 74. A former military medic and a longtime Chief Physician of Phoenix Oil since its massive boom post-War, he served as the personal physician of CEO Joseph Oswald, Sr., as well as many other employees, who remember him fondly. A grandfatherly figure to many who knew him and worked with him, he is remembered for his kind but blunt words, his never-ending pursuit of knowledge, his steadfast faith in Jehovah and Country, and his wonderful family. He is survived by his widow, Elma May Davis (Sutton), of Thunder Bay, seven children, and twenty-six grandchildren. Funeral services will be held on April 1, at the Thunder Bay Great World War Memorial Shrine at the Thunder Bay Necropolis. Visitation will be held on March 31st at the First Fundamentalist Church of Thunder Bay. There will be a closed coffin."


An excerpt from the Sunday Edition Boston Herald-Hailer, March 21, 1942, Breaking News Column:

"Dr. Israel 'Put-Put' Putnam of Boston was found dead inside his house on East Clancy Drive last night by RUMP officers who were sent to investigate reports of a loud civil disturbance quite atypical for such an affluent neighborhood. Witnesses reported a large black Col. Ford pulling up outside the three-story mansion around eleven o'clock, from which several large men in overcoats and dark hats forced their way into the home. Dr. Putnam was found badly beaten and lacerated, his body strapped to a bit of old medical equipment in his private basement laboratory. Boston Morgue Officials are still trying to determine a cause of death, but they said, 'We have our work cut out for us, because, quite frankly, more than a lot was cut out of Dr. Putnam.' The Doctor was single, without heir, and was known for his life-long career in the field of psychiatric pediatric medicine at Boston's Featherston Memorial Mediplex. He was 42."
 
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This last chapter was partially drawn from GalileoFigaroMagnifico's excellent Expanded Universe addition, Pinnacle Chaos!
https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...-of-what-madness-is-this.457877/post-22687807

Also, a quick review of Vol 1's Henry Marx chapter could prove enlightening. The painting in Dr. Putnam's chamber is the one of Marx and Featherston from that chapter. A nice callback and a good way to tie it in with early, early Vol 1 material.


This last chapter was super interesting to write, and you could interpret a lot of it different ways. There's some dark things even I won't touch that can eff a person for life, nor do I even want to discuss them, but Putnam could easily be seen as a metaphor for other, even more disgusting crimes. The bit about him being single and childless should clue you in.

Justice was proportionate, it seems. But then again, Chuck probably doesn't want to stress out Senior by butchering a dear family associate.

There was a closed coffin at Dr. Davis' funeral. I assume he didn't have a pretty demise.
 
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Take a moment to pity all the children who went through what Oswald did and never were able to get any sort of stability back, not even enough to be a mass murdering tyrant.
Calvin John Featherston Memorial Mediplex
Is that supposed to be a real place? Some google searches did turn up some Featherstons living in Boston, and there are a few clinics in possession of John Featherstons but they're both in the Southern United States.

But for real that was some screwed up stuff. (And not that far off from some of the horrid things people did in real life, even over here in the Relatively Sane-verse)
 
I'm not sure if I like Oswald going from coked-out psychopath to abused child lashing out at the world with a completely screwed-up sense of perspective, but damn it this isn't capturing the insanity of fascist regimes really well!
 
Why not *BOTH*?

Is that supposed to be a real place? Some google searches did turn up some Featherstons living in Boston, and there are a few clinics in possession of John Featherstons but they're both in the Southern United States.

But for real that was some screwed up stuff. (And not that far off from some of the horrid things people did in real life, even over here in the Relatively Sane-verse)

Calvin John Featherston was a character in The Henry Marx Story in Vol I that I linked above. He was a quack doctor who helped Marx with his batshit science sideshows. His name is a tiny morsel of a knod to TL 191.

Also apparently "Mediplex" isn't a real world aside from some sort of IRL vitamin. I think I will have hospitals frequently called mediplex from now on ITTL. Sort of how graveyards are frequently valled Necropolis.

Also, there were two updates in November, three in December, and I am going for four+ in January! Pump that content out, baybeeee. Let's gooo
 
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Calvin John Featherston was a character in The Henry Marx Story in Vol I that I linked above. He was a quack doctor who helped Marx with his batshit science sideshows.
Ah yes, what a despicable career. Primum non nocere (First do no harm) indeed.

he liberated cast and crew, battered and bruised and maimed, had to live under around the clock protection lest they be lynched. Only after Oswald announced to the nation that Patton had been executed for treason did they realize the disgraced cripple had kidnapped the crew and forced them to perform the disgusting play against their will.
I feel kind of bad for them. I also have a begrudging respect for them, especially
Claymore was found to be missing his right hand, an apparent real-life reward for his refusal to accept The Worm into his life in the drama.
The man withstood physical mutilation rather than betray his beliefs. Even though his beliefs are so wrong he might as well be in a religion of worms as far as I'm concerned, that would take real courage. He's still a fascist propagandist. I'm just saying he's a fascist propagandist who sacrificed more for his evil cause than many have shown themselves willing to sacrifice for much better causes.
 
The desk before him was a whirring cluster of various types of audio equipment, operating on both reel-to-reel spools and a newer cartridge-type spool system invented by the boys in the GAR Research Office.
BEHOLD! THE FIRST GLORIOUS CASSETTE TAPE! TRULY, WE ARE HEADING TOWARDS THE PINNACLE FUTURE.
 
I think the saddest thing about Chuck Oswald would be just how badly he was failed by his parents and how much that repeats itself in his day to day life. Chuck is himself a monster but he was only shaped by other monsters.
 
The man withstood physical mutilation rather than betray his beliefs. Even though his beliefs are so wrong he might as well be in a religion of worms as far as I'm concerned, that would take real courage. He's still a fascist propagandist. I'm just saying he's a fascist propagandist who sacrificed more for his evil cause than many have shown themselves willing to sacrifice for much better causes.

As the guy who wrote the EU piece, was trying to go for a vibe like the ex-undertaker from Metropolis in the interview chapters with Claymore's character, or at least what I implied therein by his refusal of the Worm - genuinely a pretty wholesome dude with genuine virtues who just happened to be born into a fascist nightmare of a state that warped him as a result, and is genuinely nice in his day to day life with the exception of what his crazed surroundings have drilled into him.

Also, on less firm footing, pretty much all media in the RU is fascist propaganda by definition with the Hendrick Code in place - from what we know, I'd say that while Zap Zephyr definitely is propaganda, it's mostly because you can't write anything that isn't, with the 1936 edition handed out to soldiers effectively being their equivalent to those wartime ads Disney did, which is something you probably get everywhere Because Steele and Because Manifest Climax and Because Fascist Society. I mean, Oswald's probably going to abuse the hell out of his power to warp it into a mirror of his neuroses, but he's Oswald. Personally, I view Zap Zephyr as something of a metaphor for TTL America - at its heart, a beautiful dream twisted and warped beyond recognition into the worst possible version of itself by a combination of underlying forces within it and outside factors it couldn't control until it becomes something monstrous.

This last chapter was super interesting to write, and you could interpret a lot of it different ways. There's some dark things even I won't touch that can eff a person for life, nor do I even want to discuss them, but Putnam could easily be seen as a metaphor for other, even more disgusting crimes. The bit about him being single and childless should clue you in.

...Going into this edition of WMIT, I didn't expect to sympathise with Oswald. Principally, I expected him to be the glorious, psychedelic psychopath President of the Pinnacle Future, the living incarnation of America's sins come back to lead them into horrors beyond imagining. Also, a complete memetic basketcase that would make Steele's nude aerobics look tame, but I'm getting ahead of myself. The point is, now that we're getting deep into the Oswald lore, I really can see where he's coming from, sympathise with him, hell, even root for him, and that is so much more terrifying than the Oswald of old.

On a personal note, something key to my perception of the world and myself is my doubt of utopianism and distrust of perfectionism. I recoil from totalising idealism, the notion that the world can or should be changed utterly down to the smallest detail to match someone's idea of how it should be, because I know there are aspects of my character I don't like, that are unreliable, and that cannot be trusted with that kind of power. In other words, I reject that totalising idealism, that question of "if you could change the world and make it perfect, what would it look like", because I know there is a bestial side of my soul that cannot be trusted to make such total decisions, because I know the same exists in others, and because perfection is a lie, and seeking it has only ever led to bloodshed and ruin. Oswald, then, speaks to the part of me that is attracted to that kind of power, that desire to lash out and rewrite things so that you are central to them and cannot be harmed, to transcend humanity and exist at once above and alongside it.

Learning first about the electroshock, then what this implies... That makes the sympathy with this uniquely terrifying figure even worse. Because on the one hand, I know what he is by this stage in the narrative, and what he is on the road to becoming. I know that everything in this timeline bends towards a Pinnacle future with him at its helm, the deranged, addled, self-loathing architect of horror on a scale so large it would make almost every monster from our timeline weep to behold it. I know that he's probably going to try to blow the fucking world up, for God's sake. Hell, he might even succeed.

But then I read shit like this and I know that as I read every crime he commits, every horror he allows, every terrible thing Chuck Oswald brings forth, I won't be able to stop sympathising with him, rooting for him, wanting him to bring about a Pinnacle Future where he can finally be happy and satisfied, even though I know he never can be. Because after reading this, I can't help but want that poor kid Chuck Kennedy to have a happy ending to make up for all the horrors. And that makes my horror of him all the more acute.

Congratulations, Napoleon. You made me root for the nuke-slinging madman and be utterly terrified of him at the same time.

Also:

This last chapter was partially drawn from GalileoFigaroMagnifico's excellent Expanded Universe addition, Pinnacle Chaos!

Thanks for the shoutout/using my work! :D
 
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