A memorable DS(1) from 1992 was of hiding out in my dad’s basement in what seemed like a distant future. My dad, brother, and I were some of the last human survivors in a ruined world overrun by vampires. My dad had developed a serum, from his experience working in the bloodbank, which we could use to reverse transformations.
A recurring DS(1)I had between 1989 and 1990 was of walking up my block in broad daylight to go to a tea party which was happening at a table in the middle of the road. There were road blocks to block traffic. All the other kids from the neighborhood were there. One by one they were pulled under the red cloth covering the table until I was alone.
1989, four years old. I had very vivid dreams at that age and learned to recite “no place like home” while blinking fast and hard to wake myself when things got too scary. I had a very vivid DS(1) which took place in my house. I got out of bed and walked to the cellar door. When I opened it, our dog, Ernie, was standing on the top stairs. I was startled because he had a human mustache. It wasn’t the Ernie I knew. I ran back to the bedroom and was confronted with a giant pig head wearing a WW2 era helmet floating above the bed. “No place like home”.
Hilsheimer was well recorded in newspapers, magazines, legal records, and various online message boards as being fairly shady. I was surprised no one had ever made a sensational movie around his exploits or at least a book to compile his career as a self-made doctor, reverend, and teacher. He was of a minor prominence in the early hippie scene as a radical educator with his own theories on juvenile development (especially related to treating ADD). The abuse which Helda refered to seemed consistent with police reports of confiscating shock collars, drugs, and other suggestive materials at his school in Florida. I could’t find evidence of the specific case which Helda claimed never went to court because the sudden death of her legal representative, but otherwise the information seemed to support her claim.
Joe, the former student I found online, had a very different story to tell. “It was the time of my life. Every day I would wake up with the feeling that something new and exciting was bound to happen.” Joe told me over the phone. He described the school as unconventional and certainly not something which would go over well with current ideas of acceptability, but “it was a different time then”. I asked about the death threats and Joe told me an example of a boy who was made to dig his own grave after being found huffing gasoline. “It was to teach him a lesson. If he was going to risk his life, he was going to dig his own grave.”
Every accusation Helda made was minimized in Joe’s mind and he said he would know because he was close to Hilsheimer and lived with him for some time after the school was shut down. “Who told you Hilsheimer was abusive?” Joe asked. I told him I couldn’t remember her name. “These people, these crazy people who think our government did 9/11. Why? What would be the motive?” Joe asked and kept repeating “What would the motive be?” as if I had made the claim and needed to justify it.
I thanked Joe for his time and wished him well. I was now presented with two very different takes on the same information. Between underground alien-hybrid programs and “what would be the motive” it seemed rational to take both with a grain of salt. I didn’t tell Helda about the interview and avoided talking further about it at work.
“That was rough.” Vor said the next morning at breakfast. I asked if he thought it was laced with something and he decided it was probably just very high concentrate of marijuana, compounded by my tolerance being low from abstaining for some time. It seemed silly that I had gotten so high to have suspected Helda of dosing my marijuana tea with some other compound.
At work I told Helda about how high I had been the previous day, laughing at my own paranoia, and asked if we could talk more about her grandfather sometime because I found her story compelling. “I am sorry. I did not realize I made it so strong. I will tell you whatever you want to know.” She gave me a hug and seemed sincerely open towards me. Latter that day she pulled a chair up to mine while I worked and began…
“With my grandfather’s connections he had my younger sister and I shipped away to an experimental school for problematic children of military families. It was in Florida, headed by the “Reverand” George von Hilsheimer III. Right away we were drugged and made to watch violent and sexually explicit films. We were abused and experimented on daily and told that we would be killed if we resisted. It got so bad that I ran away with my sister and another boy. We made it all the way to D.C. where I knew someone I could trust to help us. The school was raided and a legal suit was made against Hilsheimer but our lawyer died of heart failure just before trial and the case never went to court.”
I felt bad for Helda. If her story were true it was horrible to think justice was never served. She continued on to tell me about underground bases and alien-hybrid experiments to the point that I began to question if anything she said had been true. One thing was sure to me, Hilda showed signs of PTSD and I felt no ill intentions from her. My paranoia really was just me being way too stoned.
After work I called my mom and brother to get them on the case investigating what Helda had told me about the school in Florida. To my surprise there was a lot of information to back up her claim. Vor and I found it interesting to learn, Billy Burroughs, son of author, William S. Burroughs, was a student of Hilsheimer and was found dead of liver failure on the side of the road just after visiting him. Burroughs’ experimental writing, cut ups, thoughts on synchronicity- informed much of the process we had been developing at the time in the NSA.
I found a website of a former student who posted his contact information and scheduled for an interview the following week. It was all a little dark, little spooky, but also somehow exciting to feel like the conceptual art process we were using had something to do with the way in which things aligned.
Our meetings were mostly just extended riffing off of injokes about our place and time. The door to the attic room was usually open, and living in a house of seven 20-somethings with frequent guests made for a lot of traffic. It was interesting to observe the range of reactions- enjoyment, confusion, offense. Our housemate, Kennedy, spent the most time riffing besides Vor and I, and offered to take me with him to do some temp work for a few days. Our imaginary investors were slow in mailing our funding so I left Vor to work on music at HQ while Kennedy and I attempted to make some money.
“We’re from South Park, Colorado.”
“Oh, like the cartoon? Funny show.” I neglected to mention the NSA sync that had just happened, or how it was odd to meet people from a popularly fictionalized town, but was curious to know how much of the show was based on reality and how it might serve as a model for hyperreal process (not in those words). “Oh yeah, it’s all real people. I had some of the same teachers.”
As fate, or something, would have it- the two coworkers from South Park just happened to have met, Tabes, the friend I first traveled out West with while recently visiting a small island off the coast. Our employers just happened to have lived there years ago also, just out of coincidence. “There are a lot of Cowans in the cemetary here.” Tabes had informed me after moving there a year earlier.
A lot was coming together and I was glad I wasn’t stoned though everyone else was. It was a rather informal work situation. On the third or fourth day Kennedy didn’t go into work and our employer, Helda, made a ganja tea for everyone to sip on durring break. Everyone took a cup and so did I not to be rude, intending to take one or two sips; then dump it. I had nearly forgot those two sips when an hour later I realized I was very high. Everyone drank more than me and seemed alright, talking while working. I had my headphones on and started to hear the words of songs as directed at me in the current moment. Inside I began to slip into my own private apocalypse and wondered if there was more than marijuana in the tea.
Fuck, she knows I’m NSA and is trying to make me crack, I thought. For a good few minutes I sat there, working quietly with my headphones on, and truely considering that I had fallen into some kind of spook-trap mind-fuck. I determined to not crack and pretend I was feeling fine. I took my headphones off to try and engage with conversation.
“This is all real,” Helda said, “my grandfather was a Nazi neuroscientist that was brought over to work for the US after the war.”
Fucking great, just my luck they were watching Shutter Island on someone’s laptop and Helda was narrating about her family connections to mind control experimentation. Don’t crack. I managed to say, “interesting” and nod my head at her while listening to every word. No one else seemed to be paying attention.
After work that day I asked Helda for a cup of tea to bring home, wanting to test it on Vor and see what he thought.
“Nothing much, just stoned.” He said later that night. An hour later I woke to sound of Vor stirring in his bed and muttering, “Satan, satan, this shit is Satan.”