Greg and I met at a restaurant in a neighboring town. We spoke casually about our personal lives for some time, and I made sure to slowly and comfortably turn the conversation to the subject most important to me.
He spoke quietly but did not glance around or give any other signs of paranoia. I have tried to write down the conversation as true to form as it actually was. However, there were quite a few massive changes I had to make in some parts of the dialogue just to cut things down or make them more understandable.
Greg: I don't think the hallucinations are real.
Me: Well, that's what makes them hallucinations.
Greg: That's not what I meant. What I mean is, I think we're having this stuff implanted into us somehow.
Greg: About half of us who worked on the project are still working and staying socially active. The others... well, they sort of drifted away from society. Remember **** **********?
Me: He was an electrophysiologist, right?
Greg: Yeah. After the project, he just couldn't handle work anymore. Him and his wife were constantly arguing, and eventually he just got up and left his whole family. He wasn't working, he was blowing all his money on God knows what, he'd barely even speak to me, and he ended up living out of a hotel room somewhere in Utah.
Me: That's awful.
Greg: He disappeared two months ago.
Me: Probably just trying to get away for awhile. People - sometimes people need time to think things over.
Greg: Two months? When he was already living alone? Come on. You know that's not true.
Greg: I spent three days calling up a bunch of our old comrades. Right now I'd say there's three camps of people left over from the project: people experiencing hallucinations, recluses, and people who seem to have fallen off the face of the earth. What's discouraging is that the recluses are the ones disappearing. That means at least half of us Red King vets are going to be gone soon. The other half of us may very well be going insane. It's a pretty convenient situation if a certain employing party had once done something questionable in front of these people.
Me: Wouldn't we remember something like that?
Greg: I don't know what memories to trust anymore. Sometimes when I'm waking up, I get these short visions. Do you remember ***** ******?
Me: Name rings a bell.
Greg: Same with everyone else. Everyone remembers that name for some reason, but I have yet to find anyone with that name who worked on the project. Well, like I was saying, I woke up one day after seeing this man... part of his face was just... it was awful. He was screaming for help. The vision faded away, but that name stayed with me the rest of the day - and ever since, to be honest.
Me: Are you saying you had a recovered memory of some sort?
Greg: That's exactly what I'm saying. Honestly, how much do you remember of the experiment?
Me: Well, I remember the tiles and the darkness. Uh, of course the figure stands out. There were pitches and a hissing sound-
Greg: Not the video. What were we all doing in the room at the time?
Me: Oh, come on. We were watching the video.
Greg: I'm saying I don't remember anything besides what we saw on the tape. I'm saying I got really... really weird in there before my memory fades out. I get tired, we're up close to the figure, but I feel like there's this huge amount of- of white space in there. Then we see the head twitching, and then [the subject] wakes up. I remember asking questions, but I feel like there's just another big white space after that.
Me: We were all very excited. I am very perceptive towards the odd, and I have grown a bit more paranoid recently, but I do not recall experiencing any sort of memory or time loss. I don't recall anything even hinting at that. My memories aren't exactly vivid, but there's a number of explanations for that. We were very wired about the whole thing, it was a very fast and confusing moment, and- and I could just go on and on with these.
Greg: I had another vision. It's sort of en expanded version of the one I already mentioned. I remember us seeing something else in that video. All of a sudden, a wire sort of - it's like it snaps out of place. It hits ***** right in the face. I think someone got hurt during the experiment.
Me: Heh. A lot of people got hurt on that project.
Greg: Isn't that a little weird? I mean, **** ****** got his hand lopped off in- in some sort of normal, everyday piece of machinery, there was an average of like three car accidents a month, the two pregnant women on staff both had stillborns, people felt sick and depressed almost all the time in that goddamn place, and then there was that guy in tech who just randomly suffocated while speaking with his daughter in a Denny's parking lot.
Greg quietly mumbles, "'Course, that could've just been the Denny's" to himself while I say:
Greg; Yup. I don't even want to mention that creepy little guy they'd send in to check up on you if someone thought you were hurt or if, heaven forbid it, you went on break too long. The man looked like a heroin addict.
Me: I never really noticed that stuff. We had a huge active staff.
Greg: I noticed it.
We went back to talking sort of casually after a quiet pause. Eventually, we came back to the subject once more.
Greg: You know, I'll never forgive myself for not thinking something was weird from the start.
Me: It was very ambitious.
Greg: No, I spoke with the [the subject] quite a few times before the experiment. I also read a lot of background information on him. He was- I don't know how you'll believe me.
Me: At this point, very little would surprise me.
Greg: ***, they gave him a test. The man had an intelligence quotient of 192.
Me Oh, you had to have misread that. Maybe it was 129. I mean 192 - that doesn't work.
Greg: Even if it was something like 129, that's still high for someone who's supposed to represent some sort of everyman, don't you think?
Me: Good point.
Greg: I don't remember our conversations that well. I know he always seemed very frustrated or tired. I know he was the sort of person who let his past get to him. I know he had a family he cared very much for. I remember he was a Methodist. I can't for the life of me remember our actual conversations. What I remember is like a brief synopsis. I know someone's kept in touch with him, but I forget who. It wasn't you, right?
Greg: Oh well.
Here there was another short pause.
Greg: I have one thing to give you, but don't examine it until you get home and know you're alone.
At this point, he takes out what looks to be a blank CD in a blank case.
Greg: This disc has got one image file on it. I've considered sending it to you or telling you about it before, but I figured anything I'd say would just get you too excited, and I didn't want to take any risks sending it by any kind of mail. It's something you should really see firsthand. After that, you can make the decision yourself.
Me: What is it?
Greg: It appears to be a screen capture of a moment from the video I don't remember seeing. It could be fake. I don't know a single buddy of ours who'd make a joke like this though.
Greg: Just look at it yourself. Personally, it seems a tad off, but... well, not so much in a fake way as... you should just see it for yourself.
Me: Where'd you get it?
Greg: Someone claiming to be a sympathizer.
Me: The email address - did it begin with SST?
Greg: No. It was [email taken out FOR NOW].
Me: I should get in touch with him. It'd be nice to have someone else help with the journal.
Greg: Not anything regular, alright? Aside from going insane, I happen to be doing very well right now.
We chuckle, and the next minute or so is filled with silence. Greg seems to be trying to prevent himself from looking in my direction. His face has grown a bit red. He stutters a bit when he begins to ask me a question.
Greg: Have you ever though about seeing someone for- mentally.
Me: Sort of. It's just...
Me: I don't know.
Greg: I understand completely. Same here. **** [not mentioned previously for those of you who considered going back over censored names] did.
Me: How'd that go?
Greg: I wouldn't know. He doesn't speak to me anymore.
We spent a little more time just talking about how our other friends had been doing and, after that, soon parted ways.
I got home, and viewed the image he had uploaded to the CD.
It is very, very odd. I do not remember it at all. Like Greg, I find the picture sort of off. There's nothing I can specifically point to. The machine would've been perfectly capable of producing that image. I'm just not sure about it.
Greg will be sending me an email full of hallucination anecdotes and similar things he and other former coworkers have experienced sometime on Monday or Sunday. He's very hesitant about the whole thing, but I seem to have calmed him down a bit with the visit.
Still no word from Sam. I tried calling his girlfriend, but that met with no success.