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The Nosferatu Conspiracy Main

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Written by Brian James Gage

I have grave concern about someone dear to me.

I know he is suffering. His days are torturous and lonely. His nights are darker still. He is haunted. He is hunted.

I fear I cannot help.

At times, I catch him staring off into the distance, disheveled and confused—his vibrant blue eyes fall gray and dim, transfixed on something that doesn’t exist. His curious mental affliction is difficult to quantify, but the condition certainly carries all the hallmarks of a crippling mental illness.

The poor devil exhibits extreme antisocial behavior. He spends hours alone in his room. The floorboards sometimes creak, cutting through the quiet. Then suddenly a roar as he throws a tantrum—the reason for such rage is a mystery to me. The aftermath, though, is always apparent with papers strewn about his ramshackle workspace, leaving the crumbled and torn white rectangles on the hardwood for days before I step in and tidy up once more.

I have learned he is not to be disturbed while in this state. I’ve witnessed him become so immersed that he skips meals—as if the hunger itself fuels his madness to focus on nothing other than what is right in front of him until the dark is smothered by dawn.

Then he sleeps all day.

Upon waking, the exhausted boor will make his way to the bathroom to soak in a hot bath, then to brush his teeth and freshen up for another day’s work. It is when his eyes raise to the mirror, that I recognize the other is me. We share the same body, the same brain, but we are not similar. I’m the one who smiles and makes nice with others, while he is off playing alone in the dark. I pay the bills, count the calories, and ensure that our body and home are cared for. I lock the booze in the cupboard, and ensure any means of self-harm is removed from our space.

But then as the sun goes down, he awakens and is driven to smash all that I have done. Destruction, it seems, inflames his desire to create. I am in a constant battle with this beast inside my mind and as much as I try to rein him in, his worrisome behavior goes deeper still.

The unlucky bastard is constantly immersed in fantasy worlds of his own creation. Our conversations lately have devolved into the bizarre with discussion of strange characters living in his head; non-existent, other-worldly objects that he claims to have invented; conspiracy theories involving zombies and other mystical creatures; and entire tirades about these fictional places and events that exist only in his mind.

My friend, the unfortunate fiend, is haunted and taunted by voices. This is the symptom of his mental state that concerns me the most. Most evenings, as the house settles and the rest of the world is laying down to rest, I overhear his lament. He mumbles, talking aloud when there is no one else in the room, uttering entire conversations between people who don't exist. Sometimes, he'll even repeat the conversation several times, honing in on specific intonations between his imaginary friends to make them more real. This behavior becomes more disconcerting when he acts out interactions between these ghosts as if he were possessed by the devil himself! He paces around his room as if in a stage play with no other actors, pantomiming their actions because he must understand the exact mechanization of their movements.

At times, the dastard will emerge from his solitude professing delusions of grandeur. He certainly thinks quite highly of this project of his, believing it will change his life, that complete strangers will be delighted by it. So much so, that he fantasizes one day he will be noted for this activity.

This is when I know his sanity is lost.

My friend, the maniac, lives deep within a well of extreme depression, drowned by obsessive compulsion. If he's not working on his project or if it isn't going the way he likes, the poor devil becomes irredeemable. He barely makes it out of bed, and spends as much time sleeping as possible. Whenever he’s awake, he seems to be extremely concerned about getting every detail correct. His workspace is that of a mad scientist. There are books on a variety of subjects strewn across his room in various states of completion, and entire notebooks filled with sloppy handwriting describing both big ideas and small details about his project. Mind you, he will not share these details with anyone, and seems very protective of it all.

And at last, the madman is awash with paranoia, always going on about utter secrecy and how someone might steal his idea or bring it to the world first; that time is working against him, and he must put everything else aside and devote himself into completion of this yet-unseen, self-envisioned masterwork.

I've done as much research as I can for the brute, trying to figure out exactly what it is from which he suffers. I've talked to a few therapists and psychologists in hopes to help him with his disorder, but they all seem to think what he is doing is interesting and has some sort of social merit.

I'm uncertain he can be helped and am convinced he will never stop, so alas I have submitted so that we may work as one to hone the craft—this glorious torment called writing that carries all the hallmarks of some torrid mental malaise: anti-social behavior, immersion in fantasy worlds, delusions of grandeur, obsessive compulsive, mood swings, and paranoia.

I'm certain the list goes on.

And as someone who also lives with bipolar disorder, I can attest to the validity of this comparison.

But I'm not the only one.

We, as writers, are generally the same. We are moody, obsessed, selfish—and let's not forget impulsive. We are killers and schemers, charmers, tricksters, unreliable narrators, and cult leaders to boot. The only reason our behavior is tolerated by society is due to the end result of our condition has the potential to inspire, enlighten, educate, and entertain. And fortunately, our worst inclinations are confined to the pages we write.

I am often asked what it is that compels me to write or where my ideas come from. And the truth of the matter is—I do not know. Everything about this condition simply is, and there would be no sense in trying to dissect any of it so long as the words keep flowing.

As much as some days I would like to stop and put it all behind me, this writing disorder is as much a part of me as breathing. It feels innate. It nourishes as much as it torments. It guides as much as it befuddles. I couldn't stop if I tried. Every time I walk away, I am called back to my keyboard by some unseen force, feeding bizarre ideas into my head.

Although I do have a process, I am legitimately uncertain from where the nexus of these notions reside. The brute and I are a humble vessel, tuned in like an antenna to curious ideas, predicaments, and scenarios. These inspire me with such force that I am then compelled to write them down and share them with anyone I can. It's part passion, part compulsion, but mostly an affliction with a beautiful outcome—a book, a play, a poem.

I will walk my days burdened by these invisible monsters inside my head, who speak out loud when I’m alone. Sometimes they growl. They force me to spend hours away from the world, researching certain topics so that I may honor the realism of these vivid notions as they manifest. They are sometimes cruel captors, holding me hostage until this work is complete and their story is told.

So I sequester myself on their behalf, burden myself for their pleasure.

I dream, I imagine, I endure.

Why do I write? It's quite simple: the colorful swath of ideas and characters consuming my thoughts are often my most loyal friends and stalwarts. They want their stories told. And to keep them happy, I write. And in the end, when the voices quiet, the visions dim, and a solid day's work is finished—I hope that readers will also be entertained or inspired, and truly lose themselves in the madness of what the brute and I have done.

Brian James Gage is a horror author and aspiring classical pianist. Books I and II of his award-winning series, The Nosferatu Conspiracy, are available now. Horror DNA would like to thank him for sharing this piece with us.

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