A Pamphlet Found Among Broken Glass Near the East Wing Entrance
~ Jonathan Raab
The Orford Parish Historical Society welcomes you to the Marvel Whiteside Parsons Memorial Mall and Food Court! This pamphlet’s production and printing costs are generously funded by a partnership between the Historical Society, the Orford Parish Downtown Improvement District, and mall property owner, Malthus Retail and Correctional Services, Inc.
Since being built in 1972 by local labor—just like Revenant’s Finger Middle School slogan says: “Orford Parish Breeds for the Labor Pits!”—and designed by an architect and suspected occultist whose name was struck from the blueprints, the Parsons Memorial Mall has been a center of commerce, culture, and alternative aerospace research for almost 50 years.
Upon first glance, Parsons Memorial Mall may seem like it has seen better days—what with the majority of its storefront units rendered abandoned by the predations of global capital, the rats, the imminent structural failure of a large portion of its roof system, the ever-present blood in the central fountain, the rats that crawl and squeak like human babies, the theft of the Moroni the Angel mannequin from the tableau depicting various secret and nefarious Masonic rituals brought out every Lenten season, the strange and malignant whispers that only cancer survivors working the closing shift can hear, the rats that think and talk and parlay with the goat-legged sorcerer who appears nightly at the edge of the wood, and the ominous radiological phenomena around the second floor men’s bathroom (mentioned in FOIA-acquired and heavily redacted Air Force documents from Project WILL-O-WISP)—despite all this and more, we can assure you that the mall’s best days are yet to come!
That’s why we have authored this one-of-a-kind pamphlet and tour guide to this historic and beloved community institution. As part of a mysterious and generous state grant offered by a bureaucrat from Away whose face and voice none could recall save through their inexplicable and invasive presence in traumatic memories of car accidents that never occurred, this pamphlet and guide was commissioned to bring a little of the Mall’s history to life for shoppers, local history buffs, and wayward tourists who pulled off the highway for gas and have found themselves unable to navigate the labyrinthine roads to find an escape. No matter how many maps they consult or how loud they scream and beg with the invisible, indifferent idiot-god that has made their lives a living hell, they will not be permitted to leave until the Proper Time.
If you happen to be one of those unlucky souls trapped in a space-time loop that refuses to release you from our quirky and historic city—welcome to your new home! Please contact the Historical Society to get recommendations on our many affordable abandoned home properties scattered throughout the hollowed out remains of our once-vibrant municipality. It’s a buyer’s market!
Although built in the early 1970s over the razed remains of an impoverished and largely ethnic neighborhood colloquially referred to as “the Mick Warrens,” the history of the site goes far beyond the cyclical displacement and disenfranchisement of minority groups that define Orford Parish’s Nietzschean gyre through dead and haunted time. In a collection of documents housed in one of our beloved Historical Society’s many FORBIDDEN ROOMS there are accounts of hometown Revolutionary War hero and accomplished serial murderer Eli Elderkin himself negotiating for the town’s purchase of the land from a local American Indian tribe that refused to have its name written on “cursed Orford parchment, lest we find our souls drawn to one of the white man’s deranged hells.”
Elderkin had made a study of the ley lines intersecting throughout Orford Parish and identified the low hill where the mall now sits as a “conflu’ense of forces malign and untapped.” The anonymous tribe had been using it as a burial ground, but were eager to quit the land surrounding Orford Parish and happily took Elderkin’s meager initial offer and departed for Canada. According to tradition, they cautioned Elderkin to “mind the cairns and see that water is never drawn from that blighted hill.”
Eli, emboldened against curse-work by his pact with some foul pig-headed devil of the lowland hills, promptly secured town funds to hire local laborers (read: the Irish) to clear the stacked rocks and piled deer antlers marking the hill’s many graves, but left the bodies of the tribesmen buried beneath, “that their bones might be the pillars upon which our white man’s imperial domain is built.” Now you know where the mall’s motto comes from!
As for the water. Management tore out all of the drinking fountains in 1974, yes, but that was part of a boarder, city-wide project to discourage feckless hydration among the city’s ill-constitutioned youth. It had nothing to do with the appearances of a stone statue of dog-headed St. Christopher the Cynocephalic throughout the property the year prior. That was most likely due to the personal moral failings of our city council, not to contaminated water, although the symbolic synchronicities are not lost on this committee.
Elderkin led the parish’s efforts to construct what his blood-encrusted personal papers refer to as “The Black Longhouse,” but his death in 1793 halted construction. For several decades later, as the village limits grew closer and closer to that sloped and damnable hill, drunks and impure Catholic children reported seeing processions of “befoul’d emerald fairie lites” at certain unholy times of year, often appearing with dwarven, blue-faced hooded figures gathered to commune with witches and syphilitics among the abandoned pillars of Elderkin’s unfinished dread longhouse.
Parish records resume mentions of the site again in 1837, when the deed was purchased by one Genesee Dryden of Rochester, who, having quit the Empire State and his failed career as a human taxidermist, decided to seek his fortune in Orford Parish as an amateur apothecarist and whoremonger. Dryden oversaw the clearing of the ruins and built his cathouse-of-medicine upon the very same diseased earth. He is credited with the precursor to Orford Parish’s first public housing projects, having built a series of rowhouses for his female employees for when they were off-duty and in the blissful embrace of high-potency opium. The Whore’s Hill Recreation Center gets its name from this industrious chapter of Parish history!
Our beloved Parish’s growth, spurred on by the licentiousness of its vaguely European doggerel ethnics, soon reached and subsumed the outpost. From the latter half of the 19th century to that of the 20th, the hill was, at various times: home to multiple disenfranchised immigrant communities driven to American shores by an imperial war machine that blindly drinks blood and sows chaos; a hotbed of fringe religious and political activity; the site of ghastly exsanguinations occurring off and on over a thirty-year period that continues to drive troubled police detectives to madness; ground-zero for an anti-natalist plot to overthrow the government of these United States; selected to host the American Eugenics Movement Conference of 1967; home to the First, True, and Ever-Present Mall; and was prominently featured in a number of unaired UFO documentaries produced by disgraced quack and noted promise-breaker “Doctor” Jacques Vallee.
“The entire city is an open sewer of satanic ufological phenomena,” Jacques? Really?
The construction and opening of the Marvel Whiteside Parsons Memorial Mall and Food Court in 1972 is perhaps the damnable hill’s proudest hour. The multi-winged, multi-storied monstrosity has been studied in architectural programs the world over as a cautionary tale of the hubris of man, and has been home to a number of great retail outlets over the years, including Sears, K-Mart, Target, Macy’s, Electronics Boutique, Suncoast Motion Picture Company, Media Play, Spencer’s Gifts, Victoria’s Secret, Foot Locker, and the best fast food restaurants that can be found wherever our brave boys and gals in uniform bring democracy and freedom.
Occupancy rates are down 70% since the self-implosion of American industry during the decades-long death crawl of post-war capitalism, of course, but many fine stores still remain open for your shopping pleasure! Here’s just a few of the great establishments ready to serve you here at the Parsons Memorial Mall!
Owned and operated by Barret Carmile—a local man inexplicably still interested in electronic distractions for small children and the mentally deficient, and who is therefore disqualified from other fields of employment reserved for virile and self-sufficient men—Polygonal Dreamwares is Orford Parish’s premiere one-stop shop for all of the latest video games and systems. In addition to the hottest titles and big releases, Mr. Carmile’s public shrine to his own masculine inadequacies features a wide variety of “retro” games and consoles from generations past. The back room features a number of unique and rare items for those unfortunate degenerates self-identifying as video game “collectors.” Working prototypes, homebrew carts, and copies of banned, satanic, heretical, illegal, madness-infused, and reality-breaking collections of forbidden code occupy these shelves, waiting to corrupt and metastasize human brains with waves of paranoia-inducing graphics, flashing lights, and horrific electronic sound effects tuned to the frequencies of dying pulsars in deep space.
Anne Gare’s Rare Books & Ephemera II
The first (and only, to date!) expansion location of our sister city Leeds’ original shop, founded in an abortive effort to cash in on the hot retail-chain-bookstore craze of 2009, Anne Gare’s Rare Books & Ephemera II is the best place this side of the Ron Paul School of Medicine on 5th Street to find a summer potboiler, the latest pathetic self-help bestseller, or a moldering tome writ in blood describing the true occult history of the United States. Here you can find rare and out-of-print titles such as a first edition of the infamous proto-Gothic horror novel The Crypt of Blood by Countess Blair Oscar Wilflame, an original, fire-damaged screenplay of Behold the Undead of Dracula pulled straight from the smoking ruins of Camlough Studios in Northern Ireland, and the flesh-bound A Grimoire of Dark Magic as Revealed by the Lesser Swamp Gods of Little Dixie. The owner is a bit old-fashioned—dressed as he/she is in limitless, flowing purple robes, face hidden behind impenetrable folds of darkness, her/his voice the tenor of repressed childhood traumas—so be sure to bring your standard American Petrodollars, as this nightmare-made-flesh only accepts cash! (Or Innsmouth gold.)
The Media Graveyard
An eclectic, solitary boutique housed in the otherwise-abandoned east wing, the Media Graveyard features row upon row of vinyl records which, this Society has learned, have come back “in style” once more, yet again proving the infallible thesis of mathematician and misunderstood genius Dr. Gene Ray’s (PBUH) Time Cube theory. Used DVDs and Blu-Rays, paperback pulp novels, stacks of VHS tapes, vintage board games, and more are piled high to the water-damaged ceilings, forming what the regulars refer to as THE IMPOSSIBLE LABYRINTH, into which more than our fair share of missing pets, children, and the elderly have wandered into, only to return days, weeks, months, or even years later, possessed of some nightmarish intelligence that accurately predicts the geometric dispositions of the crop circles appearing in the fields of frustrated local farmers every fall. There’s also an espresso machine.
The Food Court
A selection of local and chain stores so vast and terrible that none born of woman may know its true limits or majesty. Behold, in flashing neon signage and blinking electronic screens, behold, in the rising steam of frying meats and meat byproducts, behold, in the sugary embrace of death hidden in each gulp of corn syrup-laced drink, behold, in the capitalist illusion of upward mobility flickering in the dead-eyed stares of middle aged adults working dead-end fast food jobs, BEHOLD, in the horrors of our class system, of our Mammon-worshipping business caste’s indifference to the quality and quantity of food produced through an inhumane (but truly human) agricultural system that destroys the earth, the animals, the plants, and the very people who produce and consume it, B E H O L D America itself, laid bare and spread-legged for all to see her shame, her nakedness, her rotten and pestilence-ridden touch upon a holy earth created and consecrated by God Himself for our failed stewardship. Woe, woe unto man! Who in his hubris and lust might produce such soul-rending terrors, who might visit such violence against the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth and the creatures of the sea, all in the name of the demon-gods Convenience and Quarterly Profits. Woe! Woe, unto thee, dear visitor, for the cabal of goblins that infest this satanic charnel house seek to slake your thirst and satiate your hunger through their Value Menu delights! Frolic in pink slime, chicken nuggets be thine!
The Store That Has No Name but That Will Appear in the Dreams of Those Touched by the Gods of Dust
(You struggle to focus on the text but find it unreadable, the letters and words jumbled and twisting just out of sight. You can’t read this section of the pamphlet yet. But you will. When the time is right.)
The Orford Parish Outdoors Superstore
Need supplies for hiking, camping, fishing, or hunting? The OP Outdoors Superstore has you covered! Featuring high-quality gear at reasonable prices, you can stock up on supplies before hitting the woods this weekend. Considering the per capita rate of disappearances in the unmapped wilderness surrounding Orford Parish is the highest in the nation (outside of our terrifying National Park system, of course), having a few extra supplies and the right equipment is a good idea for regional outdoor recreators! The superstore also features the largest selection of for-sale firearms in the state, rivaled only by the militia encampment and open-air weapons market outside of town. We’ve even gone so far as to beg for assistance from the state police for help with them, but it turns out many such officers are members of the American Templar Sovereign State themselves and are quite unwilling to dislodge their fellow armed racists from their fortified redoubt.
Malthus Alternative Aerospace Research Labs and Anomalous Atmospheric Phenomena Data Collection Station 6
Remote Viewer: MB
Observers: JR, SMT, JP, SJB, TC
Starting Time: 1143 hours, local
Site #: MAARLAAP DCS6
Site Acquisit.: PVD RI
Working Mode: OG
Ending time: 1151 hours, local
Highest Stage: 8
Actual Site: Arapaho National Forest, CO. SECOND SITE UNKNOWN
RV Summary: WENDIGO 4
TRANSCRIPT BEGINS AS FOLLOWS
TB: We have given you the coordinates. Please go to that location.
TB: What do you see?
MB: It’s sort of a large space. Big, but full of something. Maybe half-empty?
TB: Please affix yourself to these coordinates, and these coordinates specifically, and describe what you see from that location.
MB: I’m sorry, it’s like there’s a current here. Is this—moving water? Like a river? No, that doesn’t—there are tall—okay, trees? I get the impression that I’m very tiny. Like I’m small, and everything around me is—trees. Okay, this is a forest. I see a hill, across—across a road. The reason I didn’t realize they were all trees at first is because they’re skeletal. Grey. A fire’s been through here. I don’t know much about forest fires, but it looks like some trees are okay and some are knocked over but there’s a lot of grey ones, burnt up.
TB: Please sketch out what you see from your perspective. Build a terrain map as best as you can.
MB: Yeah, I’d like to, but I get the feeling I’m in that river—that I’m being pulled—[INCOMPREHENSIBLE]. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ.
TB: What’s happening?
MB: I’m moving. Going somewhere else.
TB: Please remain at these coordinates.
MB: I can’t. Please. I can’t. I don’t want to go.
TB: Remember your breathing techniques.
MB: They’re not—they’re not letting me. They know I’m here. They saw me immediately. I couldn’t get—
TB: Please return to the coordinates.
MB: Saw me before I even went to the forest. Felt me. They’ve taken me someplace else. Said there’s something I should see.
[Cross-talk. A third voice speaks inaudibly from the control room.]
TB: Okay, we want you to go with it now.
MB: Go with them.
TB: Okay. Where are they taking you? What can you see?
MB: It’s . . . red, here, brown. Rust-colored. Rust everywhere. Like a desert, but deeper than that, you know?
TB: What do you see? Can you generate any numbers for coordinate sequencing?
MB: I can, yes, but it’s not in USGS format. The alphanumeric strings are—
[An unidentified voice from the control room says the phrase “off world.”]
MB: Right, that’s what I was—the sense I was getting. I’m on a plateau. There’s a canyon below. They’re pointing toward the canyon.
TB: What do they look like?
MB: They won’t let me see. I try to look at them but they get angry. I get the impression of teeth. I don’t know if they have teeth, or if they are using the image of teeth to communicate threat or displeasure. I can’t tell.
MB: They’re going to hurt me. They’re going to hurt me if I don’t do as they say. They want me to look into the canyon. There’s something there they’re trying to show me.
TB: I need you to look at them. We need a description.
MB: They’re saying that they will not let you see [REDACTED]. They’ll never let you see. They will show you what they have to show you.
TB: Don’t break the connection. Okay, look into the canyon, but try to—
UNKNOWN SPEAKER: Your walls of concrete cannot protect you. Your plutonium cannot protect you. Your procedures and your rituals are inadequate. They are merely vectors for our emergence.
TB: Terminate connection, remove the DMT drip.
[Metallic sounds, a low hum, a grinding noise. The sound of a pistol cocking.]
Bethy’s Pretzel Stand and Cell Phone Kiosk
The scent of cinnamon, butter, and baking dough can be smelled all throughout the north wing of the mall—and that’s thanks to Bethy’s Pretzel Stand and Cell Phone Kiosk! Grab a quick snack or an untraceable burner phone from a man who speaks with an incomprehensible guttural accent, and who is constantly shouting at someone on his own phone when not engaged with a customer. The wall you can see behind him is home to a door. A door that opens to a large, empty white room, where all of your personal failings, embarrassments, and sexual frustrations are projected onto the walls and ceiling. A sitcom audience laugh track groans and boos and chuckles in concert with your many inescapable shames.
Gustav’s Surveillance and Home Security Emporium
What home in Orford Parish is complete without a series of byzantine and impenetrable locks on the door that leads to the Tunnels? How does one feel safe without a grainy, closed-circuit television system installed in the secret reaches of their house or apartment? Need porch cameras to capture footage of the strange, string-like beings that stalk through your lawn at night? What about audio equipment to record the secret whispers in the ventilation system spoken in the voice of your dead grandmother? Gustav, ex-Spetsnaz paratrooper, has you covered! Top-shelf military- and police-grade surveillance equipment is flooding the market and cheaper than ever, thanks to our society’s horrific police state apparatus. Also available are Gustav’s signature gold-foil plated helmets, designed to prevent extraterrestrial mind-wave interference and decrease the rate of those nightmarish abduction experiences so many of us in the Parish have been suffering since puberty. He’s only sold a few so far, and the reviews have been mixed—but every purchase helps fund further research. Keep tinkering away, Gus!
We hope you’ll enjoy your time here at the Marvel Whiteside Parsons Memorial Mall and Food Court. You have of course by now realized that while the exits from the mall are all clearly marked, leaving Orford Parish itself is another thing altogether. The roads may yet disentangle and let you leave—as they have been known to on nights like tonight, when the ley lines’ terrible occult energies wane—but the mall itself will remain lodged in your memory, a siren calling you back in thought and dream. And call you back it will, to this time, to this place, over and over again.
The Eurasian swastika shape of the mall’s design was meant to be a defense against the malignant forces at work deep beneath the soil of our beloved Parish. But even unenlightened outsiders From Away eventually realize that symbols of light-aligned forces are meager defense against the seething will of That Which Dreams Beneath. You must see now that, even if you do leave and somehow manage to carve out a full and meaningful life somewhere else in this hellscape of a rotting empire, a piece of you will always be here. With us. With all that breathes and slinks and sucks and shambles in the darkest reaches of our beloved mall, when the lights go out and the shadows grow long and the smell of Bethy’s Pretzels permeates your very soul.
Thanks for visiting the mall! If you enjoyed this pamphlet, please consider making a small contribution to the Orford Parish Historical Society. We keep local history alive!
(Donations are not tax deductible.)
Jonathan Raab is the author of numerous short stories, veteran advocacy essays, and novels including Camp Ghoul Mountain Part VI: The Official Novelization and The Hillbilly Moonshine Massacre. He is the editor of several anthologies from Muzzleland Press, including Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horror and Terror in 16-bits. He lives in Colorado with his wife Jess, their son, and a dog named Egon.
You can find him on Twitter @jonathanraab1.