Nothing Is Forever - Find US
Grandfather Spaulding, still at this point young Otis Spaulding, was in the room, front and center, for the end of Dr. Nosebleed's illustrious career. It was all injections anymore, injections into the hole in the skull and then listening to something incredibly fast, (could've been speech, but it was hard to tell), followed by an instruction to transcribe. My Grandfather was never ever able to transcribe anything more than a word here or there, and even those he was unsure of.
Three Piggums were in the room, a nurse, and Dr. Nosebleed himself. The syringes came in a large serving dish, like you might bring green beans to Thanksgiving in. One Piggum had already been injected and was alternately catatonic and struck by small twitching fits. As Dr. Nosebleed discarded used equipment on the floor where it was picked up by the nurse, he swung around to my Grandfather, needle in hand, ready to continue to horrific practice he'd built or had built for himself. He snorted, and something sounded wrong, the air wasn't getting through somewhere or something like that.
Dr. Nosebleed began to back away. Probably not from my Grandfather in particular, just the situation in general, but either way the effect was the same. Some signal didn't get passed from brain to legs correctly, and the Doctor found himself falling toward the ground. A nasty fall for anybody, especially when dealing with a medical issue like he was at the time, but he compounded his issues by trying to brace his fall with the hand that was holding the syringe. This attempt did nothing but drive the needle directly into his lower back, piercing his spinal cord and causing a fair amount of agony, even if it was far less than a man of his cruelty deserved. Whatever drug combo or cocktail that was being injected into the subject's brains was clearly not meant for the spinal column in the lower back. Every weak breath that the Doctor could pull was now used for screaming.
Otis Spaulding watched the Doctor die in front of him. The nurse did her best, but under-qualification and lack of interest combined to speed Dr. Nosebleed into death quicker than he might've otherwise reached it. A pity, many would say, a kindness – an undeserved blessing.
And just like that, as is the way of things sometimes, the ordeal was over. The ramifications would last for a long time, a lifetime in many cases, but the immediate torture was finished and would never be continued. The subjects were deposited at a series of truck stops, given enough money to get to a nearby larger city, and quickly abandoned. All of them still had a hole through their skull. No reconstruction was ever done by the group performing the experimentation, and no justice would ever come to them. Those involved with the project melted and disappeared into the giant hiding place called America.
The last time anything noteworthy would happen to the perpetrators, to date, would be when a bus went over the side of a Montana bridge in August of 2002, killing everyone inside save for the driver. The bus' occupants included 8 people identified by the Think Tank as having aided the experiments of Dr. Nosebleed. It is yet unknown why they were traveling together, what caused the bus to go over the side of the bridge, or why they each had a single bone in their pocket from the spine of a rabbit. Mysteries abound in this world.
And just like that, the first message of the Voices - “Nothing Is Forever” - had come to pass and had been judged by life as true. Their second message came to my Grandfather as he stood, shivering and holding his pounding head at an unknown truck stop in South Dakota, wondering what he was going to do. Each word from the Voices was like a painkiller nothing negative could exist while they were speaking. A low rumble, like an organ with volcanic tubes as pipes, a grand voice, a cosmic voice, spoke into my Grandfather's head two words that would guide his next movements:
Of course. There was no need to over-complicate things. My Grandfather would simply keep listening and finding the Voices that told him the truth and made his head stop aching so badly despite the hole leading to his brain that let the outside in as the inside leaked out. My Grandfather was not simply the same child that had been excused from his father's house after the death of his mother. My Grandfather had been chosen by some power, something gigantic had taken an interest, so what else could possibly be done but to follow?
A ride was eventually begged off of a whip-thin trucker with a massive plug of chewing tobacco stuffed into the corner of one lip and a massive load of loudly unhappy cows he was taking from near the Canadian border to right outside of Dallas, though he wouldn't take young Otis more than half the distance he needed to go because he didn't much like company for too long, and wouldn't take him at all if he didn't agree to get dropped off at a hospital eventually.
“For God's sake, son, you're gonna be leakin' what little brains you have all over my cab if we hit a bad pothole, so don't be a dumbass,” is a treasured quote that my Grandfather often repeats with a small smile.
Partial transportation secured, young Otis Spaulding made his slow way back to the last thing that he remembered before signing up for the experimentation that promised money at the end but eventually paid out only in horror, an apartment that might still be waiting for him outside of Kansas City proper.
My Grandfather never ended up getting medical attention he needed. He was frightened to. After all, the Voices had only revealed themselves to him after being “let in” though the wound in his forehead. If the entrance was sealed the Voices might be inadvertently lost to him. If that unthinkable possibility should come to pass, then all of the torture, the terror, the fog, it would all have been for nothing. Each successive ride that Otis got made some comment about Otis needing a doctor, and he lied through his teeth to all of them that a doctor was absolutely his next stop, no questions asked. More than once he was even dropped outside of a hospital and had to walk a good ways to pick up a new friendly face to take him a couple hours further.
Otis arrived home to a cheap apartment with a pile of angry letters on the floor and a war happening between the bugs and the mold for what was left of his food. It didn't matter. The surroundings could be as humble as they wanted to be, my Grandfather had a different task. My Grandfather was dedicated to the Voices now. He cleansed the hole in his head with peroxide and slowly, ever so slowly, the skin healed together over the hole. The bone never healed over that spot. To this day my Grandfather still bears a soft area in his head, a passage for the Voices to enter unmolested and speak clearer than they might've been able to otherwise.
People drifted back in. Two of the five friends that had also signed up for the promise of some quick cash made it back. The other three are presumed to have perished during the experimentation. The location of their remains is unknown.
As life returned to semi-normality, those two friends and my Grandfather began to discuss what my Grandfather had been experiencing. Initially the experiences were dismissed as hallucinations or wishful thinking, craziness from torture and lack of hope. Eventually, though, my Grandfather's impassioned speeches began to win them over, and they began to let their minds expand outward and question more than they had questioned before in their lives. My Grandfather, for his part, listened dutifully, even employing some early meditation techniques, (though he couldn't have put that name to them at the time), in an attempt to quiet his mind and let the Voices through.
This was, essentially, the beginning of the Voices From The Umbra Organization. Three people sitting around dirty, cheap, apartments, coming up with theories and doing what research they could about these Voices my Grandfather kept hearing. It was a humble beginning, but an honest one. A group of people, all forged in the fires of horrendous evil, about to take humanity further than it had ever been before. And with young Otis Spaulding at the helm, still a teenager at this point – still so young, there was no way someone could have predicted what it would become. It was simply a group of people beginning to bear witness. But occasionally, that's enough.