I saw a film yesterday. It starred actors, was presumably filmed using a recording device of some description, and consisted of scenes which were acted out and arranged in sequential order. The name of the film was Fateful Findings, and I was changed by it.
Even now, in the relative safety and repose of my room, and enjoying the old familiar comfort of my writing desk, I find myself struggling for the words to describe this…experience. I feel uncommonly labored as I write this, as if I have to dredge each individual word from a stinking, fetid pit of tar, and, even then, they seem unfitting for the task at hand. Where should I start?
It’s a tricky question, because one does not simply appraise a film like Fateful Findings based on artistic merit or technical execution. Rather, I think the degree to which the film makes one lose their grasp on reality is a more meaningful method of evaluation. That said, I suppose I should start at the beginning.
Andrew recommended the film to me, to start. He thought we’d both get a chuckle out of it, and since we’re both fans of funny-bad movies like The Room and Troll 2, we supposed that a movie like Fateful Findings would cater to our singular tastes rather admirably. But as the lights dimmed and the film began, things began to change. The high-pitched shrieking was the first thing I noticed. It was as if the screen itself was straining against the content emanating from it; it was, I thought, the sound a machine might make if it were in pain. The black, acrid smoke which presently began to creep from the plastic paneling may have been another indication, but Andrew seemed unable to recall if this phenomenon was a regular occurrence.
There have been several accounts of viewers experiencing terrifying “hallucinations” while watching Fateful Findings, though I, personally, take umbrage with this claim, as the hallucinations I experienced during my screening were no more terrifying than those I’m beset with on an average day. To that effect, some viewers claim to have seen what may or not have been the Face of GodTM during, or immediately following their viewings. When asked how these individuals knew it was, in fact, the Face of GodTM they had seen, many responded with phrases like “Of course it was him! What else could it be?” When prompted to describe the dubiously sacred visage that they had inexplicably seen, the individuals in question became confused, forgetful, and paranoid. This pattern of behavior appeared to worsen notably in the following minutes, eventually culminating in two separate instances of violent outbursts as well as fifty-eight instances of silent weeping, followed by lapses into near-inescapable lethargy.
While the sickly, yellow-neon light, hateful high-pitched shrieking, and suffocating, toxin-tinged smoke continued to beset my senses, I found myself meditating on the strange auteur behind the production. Have you ever noticed, for instance, that if you took the letters in the name NEIL BREEN, rearranged them, subtracted a few, and then added a few more, you come be left with the exact phrase “I am the Crawling Chaos! I am the God of a Thousand Forms, and Stalker Among the Stars! Harken to the infernal piping the the blind idiot-god, Azathoth! Repent and be saved! Repent and be consumed!” Admittedly, I thought that was a bit weird. It wasn’t until the stench became more pronounced that I had to seriously consider lowering the film in my estimation. If you can imagine a World War I battlefield (say, Flanders or perhaps The Somme, for instance) strewn as far as the eye can see with the rotting corpses of soldier and horses, it might come close to describing the stench which then began to emanate from television set. Of course, one can bear almost anything if one has a mind to, which is why the smell only became a real problem when it began trying to bore its way inside me. Yes, it was a curious incident, and one that I’ve had the good fortune to avoid both before and since. But I speak no hyperbole when I say that that stench—that all-consuming, all-defiling smell of death in its most sublime, unmitigated form—was very enthusiastically trying to wriggle its way inside me. Despite my best efforts to open a window in the hopes of redressing the issue, I was unable to deter the progress of that horrible smell. To be sure, I grappled with it as best I could, determined as I was not to let it ruin my viewing experience, but as soon as it sensed that my eyes were a particularly vulnerable and enticing location for ingress, I had to snap them shut in order to avoid the unthinkable.
Perhaps it would be germane to mention that by this point in the film, the shrieking had become almost unbearably loud, and, what’s more, began oscillating at a certain pitch that engendered in me a sense of profound unease, and, somehow, half-suggested that if I were to stop listening to that awful sound even for a moment—by covering my ears or suddenly running screaming from the room, say—then something terrible beyond description would surely occur. So there was that, on top the the smoke and stench—which I was till in the process of fighting off, mind—when there began to drip from the ceiling and walls a certain colored substance of the most unbelievable description.
After the fact, I falteringly tried to describe the color to a scholar of my acquaintance who prides himself on his arcane and esoteric knowledge of cosmic and dimensional interference, whereupon he took down an old, leather-bound volume from his ancient bookshelves, and, after blowing away a think coating of dust, naturally, he opened to a page filled with weird runes and odd, half-familiar markings, and, turning, quoted the book thusly:
“The color past ultra-violet. Also known as dark-light, it can be seen quite easily under experimental conditions.
To perform the experiment simply select a healthy brick wall with a good runup, and, lowering your head, charge. The color that flashes in bursts behind your eyes, behind the pain, just before you die, is infra-black.”
I smiled, knowing that my old friend had hit the nail on the head. Infra-black, indeed, was the color that had washed down the walls in drips, then in rivulets, then in waves, as I tried to make sense of something that I resolutely believe that no man should have seen.
The infra-black typhoon accompanied by the hideous screeching is the last thing I remember from that night. I had passed out, it would seem, sometime in the night, and, when I awoke, found myself lying mostly insensible on my flower-patterned, sun-faded settee in my old, familiar room. This too, was puzzling to me, because my settee is patterned with paisley and I’m accustomed to keep it out of direct sunlight, albeit while maintaining an indirect view from the window, so that I won’t grow uncomfortably warm should I choose to sit and read on a sunny say. Then again, after the incomprehensible events of the previous evening, I’m willing to let almost anything slide these days. I find myself becoming fatigued increasingly quickly, and the strain put upon my mind by even the most mundane of daily tasks sometimes renders me invalid for the rest of the day.
As I scribble away on this account, I find myself stopping frequently to round up my straying and unfettered thoughts, like a sheepdog tending to his indifferent flock. I lay my pen down for the final time and fear for my future and the future of those who will inevitably seek out and watch the film, intrigued as they may be by my account of it. When I can, I refrain from making personal attacks—I find it rather gauche, really—but in this singular instance I find myself justified: they are fools. Still, there will be some who, no matter what words of warning are proffered, will watch it. To them, I can only say this: shield your eyes from the incomprehensible infra-black. Protect your ears from the infernal shrieking. Open your mind, so that the dread-god Azathoth may fill it with the knowledge of aeons immemorial.
Rating: VANITAS VANITATUM, OMNIA VANITAS