The Atlantis Falcon
A fast-moving parody of things paranormal. The original story by an anonymous author appeared in the Skeptic 9(3), 44-46, Spring 1989. It is in the style of American crime fiction writer Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) and his hard-boiled private detective Philip Marlowe, both regarded as classics of the genre. This version has been expanded.
She shimmied into my office like a lady Yeti with lust on her mind. Her aura was signalling like a traffic light with short shorts in its circuits. She was blonde and beautiful and 38-24-36, a perfect 8, the number of love and football pools.
She held out her hand. I could tell she would live a long and fruitful life and would meet a handsome stranger. I reached for my Roget's Thesaurus to see if I qualified. Only big fitted.
"Mr Ramtha", she purred -- that's me, Sam Ramtha, Psychic Third Eye -- "I want you to find out who abducted my old man". She had a thick Limey accent but I translate fast thanks to watching cable re-runs of Coronation Street.
"Take a seat, lady", I said, trying not to purr. "And tell me your date, time and place of birth".
She undulated towards my desk like the sacred snake of the Aztecs, giving me her vital statistics on the way.
Now my office ain't what you could call big. Or even small. She had to squeeze past. And I do mean squeeze. Like being ironed with pillows.
"Holy Hubbard, honey", I exclaimed breathlessly. "Did you know you were a Gemini with Venus ascending in a grand trine with Mars and Neptune?" I didn't tell her she was really a Cancer. Not everyone reads Skeptical Inquirer.
She nodded impatiently. "I can tell you're pleased to see me" she simpered. It was that weeping statue I keep in my pocket. Works wonders in the bible belt. Then I noticed my wallet was gone. This dame had class, but no big deal. It was empty.
"Drink?" I asked, indicating the cocktail cabinet which contained only genuine organic hooch. That's if you believed the labels.
"I'll take coffee", she replied. Switching to Plan B, I poured her a cup of decaffeinated. As she stirred in the non-chemical sweetener, I noticed the spoon was bending. This dame had energy.
She threw a Kirlian photograph on my desk. It looked like an inkblot in distress.
"Mr Ramtha, you must help me find him. My name is J.Z. von Stokes, but you can call me Doris".
"Not the wife of super-duper multi-millionaire psychic entrepreneur Uri von Stokes?" I queried, noting the huge dazzling crystal that perched precariously on the upper slopes of her perfect frontispiece.
"The same", she averred, making a secret sign. I signed back but it was too secret for her to notice. "My husband disappeared while flying from Chicago last night. He telepathed me before he left but the cosmic vibes were bad. He didn't come through very clearly. But he was excited and said something about the Atlantis Falcon".
"What sort of plane was he on -- Boeing or Astral?" In moments of grief it helps to be sympathetic. She started to cry.
"He boarded TWA Flight 666 at O'Hare and was not aboard when it landed", she sobbed. Her frontispiece was heaving like a Himalayan earthquake. "Oh, Mr Ramtha, I'm terribly worried. My biorhythms are all upset".
I turned my thoughts from the Richter scale. "Could it be the Bermuda Triangle?" I mused. But no, that couldn't be right. Last night's weather had been lousy everywhere. The Triangle only operated in a dead calm.
"This is a real mystery", I said, gazing into her lovely violet eyes. I noticed that she was suffering from a mild liver infection and an ingrowing toenail on her left big toe. "Tell me, does your husband have any enemies?"
Her answers came slow, falteringly, like false retrieved memories.
"No, no, no", she sobbed. Did she mean he wasn't a no-no?
"He's a great healer". Maybe a shoe fetisher?
"He owns health food stores and franchises". Was he linked to the infamous Indian milk sheik from Uttar Rabesh?
"He found the world's largest crystal mine". Was there a crystal balls-up going on?
"He channels for people and everyone loves him". I gave up speculating. This was a sure bet. Cold reading to the rescue.
"Hmmmm-mmmm-mmmm", I murmured my favourite mantra. "I have an intuition that there is something sinister going on".
"Wait a minute though", she blinked through her tears. Her mascara was tracing numbers down her cheek. I reached for my numerology book. "He did say something about having problems with a psychic psurgeon".
"Right", I said. Wrong book, though. "I divine that all the planets are converging, but this time not harmoniously".
The mascara had reached her chin like five-o'clock shadow. "Oh Mr Ramtha, I do hope you can bring your inductions to bear".
She should've said deductions but what the hell. I grabbed a deck from my hatband and fanned it. "Pick any card", I said.
It's never easy to make predictions, especially of the future. This time it was the ace of spades. I knew what it meant. It meant the deck was rigged. I had to work fast. An idea came. It wasn't good but it was all I had.
"Follow me", I said. We crossed to the window and delevitated to the sidewalk below.
"How did we get through the window without opening it?" she questioned.
I didn't tell her the glass was make-believe from a magic shop. "Baby, we just took a ride on cosmic vibes", I responded, "planets ain't everything".
"Even on a Friday?" She seemed uncertain, maybe because it was Wednesday and she was reading the wrong horoscope. Myself, I prefer tea leaves, or did before I switched to tea bags. Free will ain't what it used to be, so now I just let things happen. Except for paying bills.
It was getting dark. The sidewalk was deserted except for Elvis Presley and Craig the Creationist, who was walking his favourite Tyrannosaurus. He called it Rex. To me, Rex looked like a poodle but Craig always swore it was a Tyrannosaurus, and you don't mix with faith like that.
I bundled Doris into my beat-up convertible. It was an '82 Chevy. The fusion-powered one with the Energy Polariser guaranteed to turn an old clunker into a smooth-running unit. I never had to fill the gas tank, which in my business was a plus.
My sixth sense told me which way to go. As we headed down Sunset towards Hollywood Central, I noticed bright lights in the sky. Some were saucer shaped, some were like cigars, some were flashing, some had portholes, some were just fuzzy like they were undecided. All were performing high-speed figure eights, inside and outside loops, Immelman turns. Crazy stuff. No wonder every USAF base had hangars full of alien bodies. I called them wannabe g-whizz's. Could this be the answer? Had aliens abducted von Stokes?
Somehow I thought not. The answer was much more down to earth. Like this Doris babe with her progressed Saturn in my fifth house. I turned up the radio and drove on.
Shortly afterwards, with only about thirty five minutes of time unaccounted for, my psychic antenna told me we were at our destination. Or maybe it was the huge pyramid blocking the road. I stopped the car. Expensive marble glinted in the streetlights. No graffiti so it must've just arrived. The radio was playing Beethoven's twelth as channelled by some Limey broad. I turned it off.
"Play it again, Sam", Doris begged, but I had other fish to fry.
"You shtay here shweetheart while I cayshe the joint". I often channelled Bogart in moments of stress.
Silently, I crept through the shrubbery, as one does, towards the pyramid. There was tansy and mandrake and ginseng. I could feel them doing me good. Then without warning the streetlights went out. I saw stars. Lots of them. They were the Pleiades, where I was told most of the undercover aliens came from. Funny, I thought they came from Mexico.
All of a sudden I seemed to be floating in the air. A silver cord tethered me to a body lying face down in the tansy. It looked familiar. It was. It was mine. Then I was falling down a dark tunnel. At the end was a bright light. There were figures beckoning. I recognised Velikovsky and Reich and Conans Doyle and the Barbarian. They wanted me to stay. But I had a job to finish.
I struggled back to consciousness. I wished I hadn't. My head was pounding like voodoo tomtoms in a TV ad. My mouth tasted like the Pharaoh had cursed it. I looked around. What I saw was instantly familiar. I was trapped inside an Orgone Accumulator Box.
Strange machinery flashed coloured lights. Lightning arced and crackled. Acupuncture needles lay around like real needles in any back street. Chiropractic and phrenology charts covered the walls. A giant crystal was malevolently channelling energy. Or was it channelling malevolent energy? It was like the antechamber to Hell. Reminded me of when I worked the kitchens in hamburger joints.
"Aha! You are avake at lasht, Meeshta Ramtha".
The voice came from a tall cloaked figure lisping through long pointy canines. By his side stood another sicko dressed all in white with gold trimmings like a televangelist winding up his pitch for the big bucks. Who were these guys? Something told me they were up to no good.
Then it hit me. The tall guy was often in the social pages of the New Age Chronicler. He was the psociety psychic psurgeon Professor Dr Frank N Stein, who with his wife Phyllis were the darlings of the crystal set. Once a respected professor at Notre Dame University, he had left academia under a cloud. Something to do with cattle mutilations in Texas.
So the golden gargoyle at his side must be his assistant, Igor "Blighmy" Brazil. Right on cue, Brazil spoke with a voice used to microphone failures. "Can you prove tomorrow is not coming? Do you have the courage to face your manifested destiny? Can you cope with your altered ego?"
So the rumours must be true. Brazil was a nut. Ignoring him, I turned my attention to Stein.
"What's up, Doc?" I queried.
"Meeshta Ramtha, you sheek to interfere vit mein plansh to dominate ze verld". His sabre-tooth HIV-positive droolings simultaneously decreased the signal/noise and increased the rainfall. I prayed the Accumulator Box wasn't el cheapo.
"Vit mein friendsh from ze hollow in ze shentre of ze Earth, ve haf been abducting your vimmen to produshe ze marshter rayshe". Then, with curious logic, he added, "Sho now you mush die".
Stalling for time, I asked, "What have you done with Uri von Stokes?"
"Neffer heard ov heem", spat Stein, literally, advancing on me with his psychic fingers aimed at my heart. My ribs and the Accumulator Box were no defence. I had to fight back lest I reincarnate as a politician.
I drew strength from the psychokinesis course I had taken last year. Stein was waving his arms like he was conducting an orchestra. Could I redirect the lightning and zap him? Logic said no because he was a bad conductor. I was restrained by straps with metal buckles. So in my third eye I visualised buckles. Make them bend and open, bend and open. I could feel Stein's fingers entering my chest. They tickled but I was too busy to notice. Bend and open, bend and open.
With a cry of rage, Stein tore his fingers from my chest and grabbed at his rapidly descending trousers. But I was free. Snatching my trusty environmentally-safe .38 equaliser from its holster concealed in my sock, I fired at Stein. In such circumstances I have never been known to miss. Something to do with the high price of silver bullets. Stein lurched into the giant crystal and it rolled on to Brazil with a sickening squelch. And that was that. Two nuts cracked for the price of one. It was a good omen.
But it was not over yet. Soon flames enveloped both bodies leaving only a pile of ashes and one misshapen shoe lying unharmed beside it. There was no obvious source of heat anywhere. A real mystery.
Choking, I left the building. I had saved the world but what about that Doris babe? Where was Uri von Stokes? And what was the mysterious Atlantis Falcon? My psychic powers could provide no answer. In fact I did not feel well. Tomorrow I would have to see my naturopath.
Somewhere a phone was ringing. If it was Shirley MacLaine it was a sound-alike touting for Walmart. The real gal never needs a phone. I let it ring. Then I realised the ringing was in my ears. I needed a candle.
Feeling thirsty, I reached for my hip flask of sea water. Normally I prefer hooch distilled the old-fashioned way but my alternative friends say sea water contains negligible traces of everything, shaken not stirred, so it cures everything. They were right. No sooner had I taken a swig than I felt better. Perhaps being violently sick had helped. But the omen had worked. I could even save on that visit to nature boy.
Somehow I reached the street where the Chevy was parked. The pyramid was gone. In its place was one helluva big-bucks Limey auto. It was a shiny red Rolls. The colour reminded me of jam rolls. Doris was sitting in the back with a strange geezer wearing dark glasses.
In my business there are situations where habit takes over. This was one of them. I noticed the 13-digit numberplate added to 1. Jupiter was low in the sky. A black cat crossed the sidewalk. Curlews called like, well, curlews. I checked my watch, now mysteriously working again. It said midnight. Could I believe it? I called a psychic hotline but was put on hold. Undeterred, I sauntered across to the Rolls, flashing a smile. The geezer was bigger than me.
"Oh Sam", she cried, "I've made a terrible mistake". She nodded towards dark glasses. "This is my husband Uri. I thought his ESP message from O'Hare said something about the Atlantis Falcon and a psychic psurgeon. But it really said he was returning via Atlanta to meet Malcolm, the cycling verger of the Fifth Street Born Again Fundamentalist Anabaptist Church".
Suddenly it all fell into place. As I wearily climbed behind the wheel of the Chevy and drove away down those mean streets, I knew I had fouled up again. Just my luck. Except this time luck had nothing to do with it. No sirree.
In the rear view mirror I could see the truth as clear as hindsight. I had been suckered by a pretty face into forgetting rule numero uno when dealing with psychic mysteries. Like my big fat mafia momma used to say, "Never jumpa to da conclusions, kiddo, unlessa ya gotta alla da facts".
I was still thinking about it when my Chevy crossed the levee and took me into oblivion. When ya gotta go ya gotta go. Tomorrow I stand for Congress.