A Clockwork Yellow
Background: In 1995, some idiot in Burnaby, British Columbia decided to use The King In Yellow as part of an experimental and flatly illegal psychological reconditioning study using criminals. And ‘some idiot in Burnaby’ is about as detailed as a description as one can make, these days: part of the fallout of that particular disaster was the permanent erasure from human language of the phonemes that made up that man or woman’s name. Don’t think about it too hard, particularly if you have a family history of neurological incidents. The resulting disaster turned out to be of the ‘time bomb’ sort, rather than the ‘Azathoth has been summoned’ sort: while the staff all went messily and flamboyantly mad – like you do – the reconditioning appeared to …work, sort of. At least, all the subjects went permanently catatonic, which is not the worst thing that can happen when you’re exposed to Carcosa, right?
Unfortunately, the investigation was handled by Canada’s anti-Mythos government agency (M-EPIC) – and, just as unfortunately, M-EPIC’s remit has mostly been involved with Ithaqua cults and the like. Cleanup squads knew to close down the site and cover up the evidence; and the original researchers typically found new and exciting ways to commit homicide-suicide while still in custody, and before trial. But the research subjects were allowed to live, in the hopes that they’d wake up. Which they never did: the last one died in 2014, still on a respirator. By then, the relevant M-EPIC staffers had all done the usual round of retirement, resignation, reassignment, gone mad themselves, or committed suicide; which meant that nobody was left on this plane of existence who still possessed any institutional memory of the original case.
That’s right: ‘this plane of existence.’ In Carcosa the original study is still going on. As each staffer died here they were translated to the Bone Tower and allowed to continue their original research; their original subjects were the unlucky catatonic patients, who had to endure over a decade of prolonged psychological torture in their own dreamscapes until their bodies stopped working. The subject’s spirits likewise were translated to Carcosa, where they ‘graduated’ to the rank of researchers themselves.
As the supply of living subjects dwindled, the need of each researcher to ‘learn’ more and more accelerated; the physical death of the last subject left the entire project with a maddened need to keep going. Fortunately – for the researchers – that which is in prolonged contact with the King In Yellow can pass along that touch to anyone and anything also in prolonged contact. Other catatonia patients. The walls and floors of the rooms where the subjects were kept. Long-time orderlies and doctors in the relevant care facilities.
And some of that last group are starting to report that they are having… unpleasant dreams. Disturbingly similar dreams. Very lucid dreams, in fact: at least one telephone number was passed along during one of the demented ‘therapy sessions’ that the affected people dreamed while asleep. The fallout from this raised enough internal stink in the various American medical bureaucracies that agents from Delta Green were alerted to the problem.
As to fixing the problem: well, perhaps investigating the original facility for clues might help? What’s that? Oh, yes, M-EPIC merely shut down the facility itself and made the paperwork for it a bureaucratic blank spot. Why, was there supposed to be more stringent sterilization procedures adopted?