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Preview of Delta Green: Through a Glass, Darkly by Dennis Detwiller

Posted on April 30, 2011 by Flames

Born of the U.S. government’s 1928 raid on the degenerate coastal town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts, the covert agency known as Delta Green spent four decades opposing the forces of darkness with honor, but without glory. Stripped of sanction after a disastrous 1969 operation in Cambodia, Delta Green’s leaders made a secret pact: to continue their work without authority, without support, and without fear. Delta Green agents slip through the system, manipulating the federal bureaucracy while pushing the darkness back for another day—but often at a shattering personal cost.

Ten years ago, everything changed. It’s time you found out how.

It’s January 2001. The Delta Green agents code-named Cyrus and Charlie get the call: A young boy dead and buried for years has reappeared, healthy and happy, as if no time at all had passed and the disease that killed him had never been. The family thinks it’s a miracle, but Delta Green has seen too many miracles turn to madness. Cyrus and Charlie must discover what horrors lurk behind this one. The mission brings them to the brink of apocalypse—to the edge of the revelation and destruction of Delta Green—to secrets and terrors at the heart of reality itself.

Through a Glass, Darkly is a new novel written by Delta Green co-creator Dennis Detwiller. The book is finished. It’s been reviewed, revised and edited. Now Arc Dream Publishing is holding a Kickstarter project to raise the funds to publish it. Here’s a glimpse.

Delta Green: Through a Glass, Darkly is by Dennis Detwiller, © 2010.

Part One: Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even also as I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” —I Corinthians ch. 13, v.1

“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” —William Blake

“In The Fugue”
At the Focus.

It wasn’t a dream.

He was watching himself from above, but not in some abstract sense. He saw himself from a height of a dozen meters or more, cowering amid low-standing ferns with his M-16 forgotten at his feet, dressed in ridiculously oversized fatigues stained with red mud. Others were there, but they were lost in their own terror. Somehow, though he knew them, he couldn’t place them. They weren’t what drew his attention. He was looking at something which split the night like a magnesium flare. His face—younger than he recalled—was agape, considering what his mind wouldn’t bring into focus. He looked terrified, seconds from death.

But that was not the only self he saw. He also stood in a stark hospital room, older now, covering his face with a hand that clutched a pistol, trying to shield his eyes. The shift from the first scene to the second was as simple as tilting one’s head. In one corner of his vision he saw the jungle, in the other the hospital room. They were seamlessly connected. That same light played across the room, engulfing it, obscuring what was in the bed. A low hum pulsed like a rocketing freight train on a collision course with his mind, shaking everything like it would tear the world to pieces.

Even as he looked away, there was more hims, more selves. Now he stood, older still, in a long, thin, tall hallway hung with timber rafters, and the same light spilled over him. The door at the end of the unfinished hall was open and filled with light. The sound was worse, but also fascinating—beautiful and haunting, like a lullaby recalled only by biological memory; something from far too early in life to recall properly, but which hung over a lifetime like unconscious knowledge.

He turned away and found himself face-to-face with himself—terrified, lost, lit by the blue-white light. Then he was himself, his other self, facing the light. Fearing to look too closely into the light, he turned again. Then again, quicker, and again. Soon the room was spinning in lazy flips, as he leapt from self to self through time. Looping. Closing the loop. Faster.

The music built to a crescendo as he found he could no longer look away from the light. The jumps were so fast now that his vision of the light was a staccato blast of a dozen different wiggling frames per second. There were shapes there in the light. The sounds and the shapes formed patterns. The patterns were everything. When his eyes tracked each pattern and each sound, the world froze. Each mote of existence hung in the air like a lazy snowflake, apparent, clear, perfect. Still.

When he woke with a startled jump at a sound from the room, he considered his shaking hands, and then slowly strapped on his pistol. Someday, he was certain, he would need it.

“The Call”
Collateral paranormal event: Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. 40.48 N/74.46 W latitude/longitude: Saturday, January 22, 2001, 4:37 A.M. EST

When the call came, Brady Commons was lit in dark, pastel tones. The quad was empty, lit here and there by arc lamps and an amber sky that was gaining a clear, still light—the type that would cook off the fog before dawn ever came. It was not morning, at least not yet; there were hours left until the students would rise and go about their business.

Now was the time of empty hallways. Of flickering fluorescent lamps and the soothing hum and click of unattended soda machines, of the pulsing rhythms of the boiler in the bowels of the building, chugging away like a buried beast. It was a time rich with the energy that moves in the air when no one is around, the sensation of events perched on the edge of occurring, the feeling of tension gathering silently in the air like a storm—the force of a spring compressing in a mechanism ready to trigger a countdown.

When the phone rang at four thirty-seven in the morning in room 3A, it rang only once. Usually a phone at this time of the morning would ring on and on while someone stumbled through the dark to find out who had died. It was always bad news at a time like this. In a way, this call was no different. The news was bad, though the caller and man who answered would not realize how bad until much, much later.

The person next to this particular phone had been sleeping on the floor in front of the television set, with a single meaty arm on the shelf next to the receiver and his head propped up on the edge of the couch, since two thirty-four. His jerky rise to consciousness, all elbows and knees, knocked the receiver off the hook before it could ring again. Lost in a sea of fast-food cartons and half-eaten Doritos bags, the man looked like a casualty in the war on obesity. His Rutgers T-shirt, stained with various sauces and beverages, had not seen detergent in more than a year.

He rose to a soupy semi-consciousness and jiggled as he coughed and rubbed his pimpled face. The receiver chattered away on the table; a disembodied chipmunk-like voice poured from the earpiece. The man tried to press down his hair, stuck up in loose brown cowlicks held together by spit, sleep and drying food, but it immediately returned to its former state of chaos.

The fat man fumbled for the receiver on the table, which slipped away from his grasp like a fish and dropped to the nappy burgundy rug at his hip. Then, somehow he managed to scoop the ugly handset up in both hands. He didn’t open his eyes. The room was dark except for the television flashing an endless, snow-like static. He connected the right end of the phone to his right ear. The chipmunk voice was still babbling away on the other end.

“Garrity . . . hmch . . . Garrity here,” the fat man said, finally.

The voice on the line, which had been talking the whole time, paused for a second to emit a stuttering sound of disgust, then continued in a higher, more urgent tone.

“Shut up! Garrity, shut up. Bob Lumsden broke Violet 5. He’s gone. I don’t know what happened. He’s gone. Did I say that? It worked. The program worked. I’ll be fucked if it didn’t work. It worked. He’s gone. It worked. What did we do, Garrity? What the fuck—Garrity? Are you there?”

“Garrity here,” the fat man replied, nonplussed. Nothing had registered. It was all gibberish. The only thing he recognized was his name.

“What the fuck do we do?”

“I come down and see what happened,” he said.

“What?”

“I–COME–DOWN–TO–THE–LAB!” Garrity shouted, his voice tired and hoarse.

“But did you hear me? He’s fuckin’ gone! Lumsden’s gone!”

“Where’d he go?” Garrity yawned.

“He disappeared in front of me and Loew, in the machine. Loew’s curled in the corner like some sort of—I don’t know. Shit.”

Garrity stood up in the dark, pulling the phone’s base off the table. It hit the ground and made an angry ringing noise that slowly echoed into silence.

“Was it on? Was the Glass active?”

“WEREN’T YOU FUCKING LISTENING HE BROKE VIOLET 5!”

“Keep it down, Mitchell, no one’s ever broken Violet 5,” Garrity whispered.

“My program worked. We sidestepped the error. It worked.”

“Worked,” Garrity echoed, his voice empty of all emotion.

Something dark and empty settled in Garrity’s stomach. It took more than a minute to realize that for all his breakthroughs and inventions and knowledge, an unreasoning fear held him frozen. Waiting for more information. Three miles away on the other end of the line, Mitchell breathed into the phone but remained silent. Beneath the breathing, Garrity heard a static-filled chorus of voices, mistransmissions that bled through on the line.

Garrity hung up the phone and stared at the static-covered television. After a moment, he clicked it off with the remote.

“Violet 5,” he said to no one at all. And then began to dress in the dark, retrieving his shoes and pants from a pile of clothing under the table that held the television.

He didn’t know what to feel, but one thing seemed obvious: Either he had lost his mind or Mitchell had. (Or maybe, his analytical mind chimed in, they had lost their minds simultaneously.) Other options were there, of course. Other possibilities—but they were difficult to think about.

People did not disappear. Loew, ever stable, did not break down. There were general rules to the universe. Doritos made you fat. The television played static after four if you didn’t have cable. There were stars in the sky.

But he had read so much to the contrary, so much that he had put into the construction of the Looking-Glass.

The world doesn’t really make sense, does it, he thought. It never has, and you’ve always known it, everyone knows it. Some choose to ignore that feeling, some—

With effort he pushed the thoughts away. He had been entertaining them, the same thoughts that led to his career and construction of the Looking-Glass, since before he could remember. They had always been there.

Please let me believe that Lumsden’s just playing a joke, he silently pleaded as he pulled out of the parking lot in his clunky Daihatsu.

But he didn’t believe. They weren’t friends and he knew it. They were geniuses who tolerated each other so they would have someone to prove wrong and to get done what needed to get done. What Mitchell said happened, had happened. He knew it. But what if it was all a mistake?

Something wouldn’t let him find comfort in that simple thought.

“Please God, let me believe in something,” he said aloud in the car. His voice sounded so hollow, so tinny in the stutter of the sewing-machine engine that he found no solace in the muttered prayer.

The first and last sincere prayer he would utter in his adult life.

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