When we were kids, my sister and I thought we were a big deal for trespassing beyond the fences that surrounded our suburb. That was before we found out what was really out there (and I mean way out there) and faced the prospect of becoming a bigger deal than we had any right to be. Before she disappeared from this world and I took a wrong turn trying to go after her.

In the open reaches of possibility there are potential worlds where the fabric of existence is mutable and choice gives finality to the flux. Those displaced from fixed reality can become catalysts for fruition or destruction, and those who go chasing the promise of untethered freedom risk losing everything, for nothing is boundless.

What I’m trying to say is that this is the story of three clueless teens, one soulless town, certain half-baked outer realms, and the quest to save one girl from her alleged heroic destiny.

Reid Emberley is some guy who lives in California, USA (Earth), writes things, does not have a cat, and is just now realizing how awkward it is to write about himself in third person. Alternatively, I might be a lingering spectral presence capable of interacting with computers who is lurking right behind you, waiting to haunt you if you leave critical comments, and who also does not have a cat. (They don’t like ghosts.) This is to keep you wondering whether or not I survived the events of twenty years ago that are documented on this site.

As you can see, I’ve thought of everything. That’s how I know you’re thinking, “But Reid, why would you wait twenty years to go public with something like this?”

This story almost never went public at all. I decided after years of waffling that it would be more trouble than it was worth to try and share it, but changed my mind last year for two reasons. First, I finally admitted that I need to get it out for my own sanity, and second, I know there are others out there who’ll understand.

The catalyst for this decision was the tail end of a radio talk show I heard in the car. They were on a tangent about old CRT monitors and someone mentioned the white fuzz that would skitter across the screen when there was no signal. The host first called it “snow,” then groped for the more technical word on the tip of her tongue. While they were all throwing out words to jog their memories, one guest blurted something that neither I nor anyone else on the program had ever heard.

That in itself would have been odd but forgettable. What made me almost ram the car in front of me was that despite not knowing the word, I knew exactly what it meant: noophages, mind parasites. From the way some of the other guests faltered, I could tell it hit them (and everyone else listening) the same way. I felt for them; it’s a unique sort of dissonance the first time it happens.

The man tried hard to pass it off as a slip of the tongue, the conversation moved on, and I was left wondering once again just how many others have been keeping a lid on stories like mine for fear of the world’s reaction.

Do I expect you to believe any of this? Of course not. Only a crazy person would insist that the following really happened to my sister, our friends, and me at the turn of the millennium in a town that no longer exists. And I’m not a crazy person, nor do I want to attract them. QED. I’m not interested in starting a movement or connecting with “fellow truth-seekers”. The way I see it, the only way to share something unbelievable is not to care who believes it.

Which is why, as you already thought you knew, this is all a fairy tale. Not the delusion of a nutcase looking for validation, just ramblings of an overactive imagination. My narration style? This whole foreword? It’s just a fourth wall gimmick for immersion’s sake, not because I can’t think of any other way to tell this mess. There’s maybe one person who could tell it better than I can, and whose perspective you might find more interesting, but that person frankly has more to lose than I do.

On that note, let me make it clear that everyone else you’re going to read about would prefer to be left alone. If I hear that you’ve been trying to find them or harass them, I will shut this whole thing down faster than you can say “get a life”. Or I’ll just haunt you. You’d better hope it’s the former.

See? You’re already rooting for me to live. I told you I thought of everything.

A. Reid Emberley
June 2020