A Short Story by Jonathan Taylor
The following is an affidavit. It is a written statement of facts pertaining to a particular sequence of events, which provides a narrative with a disjointed and sporadic tale. When we write, we draw from our own experiences, creating a window to our world with our words. This concept is illustrated in ‘Strewn along a Highway’, which is an account of my experience with suppressed memories that I found myself reliving in the spring of 1989, when the lost images gained buoyancy and appeared at the surface of my consciousness. As the misplaced scenes from my past flashed on the screen, a story began to unfold, uncovering the answer to a mystery, which I have never revealed until now.
Strewn Along a Highway
I first learned of the bodies in 1983, through what would be the vaguest reference. It was sometime during the school year, and I was attending junior high in Mattapoisett. One morning, while riding the bus to school, my attention was called to a man who was standing on the side of the road along Route six at the beginning of a path, which led into the woods. The other children were marveling at the man’s appearance. He was an extremely large individual with an exaggerated muscular build, whose thick dark hair and beard gave him a slight resemblance to a wolf man. However, my focus was drawn to his strangely piercing blue eyes, which captured me in their gaze. After freezing me in his beckoning stare, he turned and proceeded toward the path that led into the woods.
Later that day, I walked away from the school before my second to last period, and headed down Route six toward the path that led into the forest. Journeying down that path, I encountered the mysterious figure that I had seen that morning. He was standing by a makeshift tent, which had been fashioned out of a canvas tarp and some rope. My first instinct was to run, but after just a few short steps, he called to me, and I was stopped dead in my tracks. Exhibiting some kind of hold over me, I followed him into his tent where we sat on folded legs across from each other and he proceeded to tell me his tale. He told me that he had hypnotized me years before, as part of what he described as an elaborate test. His last words that I remember before inky blackness were, “There are going to be bodies.”
The next day, I was brought before the school administration regarding my early departure. Having no memory of the event at that time, I was oblivious and dumbfounded by the accusations of me leaving the school early on the previous day. Suddenly, in the middle of the inquisition, without any explanation, the matter was dropped and I was permitted to leave, free from any repercussions for my derelict behavior. However, I recall as I left the room, at least one school official remained outraged over the incident, and expressed his discontent before letting the matter go.
I next heard of the bodies in the summer of 1984. It was late at night, and I was walking toward the beach after talking at the window of a girl that I knew, when I was surrounded by a group of youths. Seizing my arms, they told me that their friend wanted to talk to me. I thought that I was being jumped, and I began to curse at them loudly in the night as I attempted to fight off my perceived attackers. At that moment, the individual for whom they were holding me approached us. He told them to release me and I immediately became relaxed. He then took me for a walk alone down what had once been a road, but was now merely a path through some dense overgrowth.
He told me that we were brothers, and that our mother had given birth to me when she was fourteen and him when she was thirteen. He said that she had given us up for adoption and that I would encounter her in the near future when I moved to New Bedford, which I was set to do at the end of the summer. He explained that I had been hypnotized as a child, to suppress any memories or knowledge of my adoption, and he described the man who I had met up with in the woods as the one who was responsible for this. Finally, he spoke of the bodies. His reference was more detailed, than the vague allusion that had been made by the man in the forest. He elaborated that there would be a string of murders that was going to take place in the not too distant future. He said that, I would hear about these bodies turning up, and when that happened I would remember our conversation from that night and his telling me about those murders. As we parted, I once again found my mind submerged in a river of blackness.
The next day, the girl with whom I had been talking to at her window asked me about the previous night’s events. She had heard the commotion, and wanted to know if I knew anything about it. I had no memory of the encounter at that time, and therefore had no idea what she was talking about.
At the end of summer in 1984, I moved to New Bedford and began attending New Bedford High. The school eventually became a mere meeting place, where I would hook up with my friends before heading for downtown New Bedford. There we would spend our days exploring the city and experiencing the curriculum offered by its streets. On one of those occasions, I was with two other delinquent teens, when the three of us went into city hall to get birth certificates. The clerk who was issuing our birth certificates informed us that one of us was adopted, and that our birth mother had us when she was only fourteen years old. Just as had been suggested it would, the memory of this event was immediately lost to me. However, it wasn’t lost forever, and years later when the memory of the event resurfaced, my two companions from that day corroborated it.
In 1985, while cutting school in the downtown area; I finally had my encounter with the woman who identified herself as my birth mother. I was in the New Bedford Public Library, when she confronted me in the stairwell. She had birth records, which had been stolen from some state or local agency, listed her as my mother, and indicated that she had been fourteen years old at the time of my birth. She also had birth records showing that she had given birth to another son when she was thirteen. For the first time, I found that I was able to retain this information without my knowledge or memory of it being suppressed. I also found myself overwhelmed by unwarranted feelings of hatred toward her. She explained that these feelings were a side effect of her telling me that she was my mother. This was all due to posthypnotic suggestions that had been placed in my mind by the man who had hypnotized me. When we parted ways, she told me that I was to get myself suspended from school for two weeks, and meet up with her again at the New Bedford Public Library, and once again, the memory of our encounter and any knowledge of adoption were lost to me.
Although I had no memory of our encounter, I did manage to get myself suspended from school for two weeks as she had suggested, and as though operating on some kind of autopilot, I found myself back at the library. As before, she showed me the birth records that she possessed, and brought me to the point where I was able to retain the information regarding adoption. And, just as before, I was overwhelmed with uncontrollable feelings of hatred toward her.
Over the next two weeks, she laid out her plans for the future to me, filling my head with the information that she chose to provide. She told me that my being hypnotized was a form of retaliation for her having revealed to me that I was adopted during a chance meeting between us when I was just five years old. She described the man whom I had encountered in the woods, and explained that he had brainwashed me as a child, by using hypnosis. The hypnosis related amnesia that I suffered was a result of my mind being placed in a state where any information regarding adoption would be suppressed, and removed from my awareness. However, she was given the power to free me from that state, although doing so resulted in feelings of hatred toward her, induced by post hypnotic suggestion.
Then she told me about ‘the light people’, and this provided a window into what drove and motivated her. To explain ‘the light people’, requires a brief education on the subject of hypnosis and what happens to people when they are placed in a trance. Where, most people when placed under hypnosis will recount memories of past lives, there are some people who tell a different story when placed under hypnosis. They describe themselves as ‘beings of pure energy’ that travel here from another world. Entering the physical form at birth, just as any other soul, they claim to be sent here by ‘planners’ who in turn answer to ‘master planners’. These individuals have come to be referred to by some as ‘the light people’.
She claimed that she was one of these ‘planners’ and that the man who had hypnotized me was the ‘master planner’. He convinced her that he had set the whole thing up as some kind of test for her. Her task was to free me from the hypnosis without me hating her as a result. She said that nothing in this world mattered except this test, and it was clear that she was willing to do anything to succeed. Unfortunately, for my part, recounting tales of brainwashing, followed by stories about ‘light people’ may only serve to incite skepticism, but as integral parts of the plot, there is no way around those disclosures.
Finally, she told me about the bodies. Although, she wasn’t the first to make reference to the imminent murders, she was the only one who actually claimed to be the future killer. She said that, she was going to commit a string of serial murders. All of the victims would be women linked to drugs. Their addictions would make them easily lured and their association with drugs would provide a level of indifference on the part of authorities in solving their murders. She was confident that no one would ever suspect a woman of committing the killings, including the victims themselves. Even if they were aware that women were disappearing, they would feel safe and at ease with her. She also claimed to possess an eidetic memory and a black belt in martial arts, which would serve as vital tools in completing her task.
She said that, as the bodies were being discovered, I would hear about it through the media, and as the story ran in the news, it would act as a key to unlock a back door that would trigger the release of my suppressed memories. The man who had hypnotized me planted this key during our encounter in the woods, before providing the information to her. This back door would allow her indirectly to reveal herself to me, by granting me access to those hidden memories.
One of those days that we spent together included a meeting with her ex-husband, who identified himself at that time, as my father. I was stunned by the uncanny resemblance that he bore to the individual who had claimed that we were brothers back in1984. This meeting provided at least one certainty in a future sea of doubt. There was no question that my proclaimed brother was the son of these two individuals. Something else significant occurred during that meeting. She grew angry with me when I openly inquired, “Does he know about the bodies?” Apparently, he hadn’t known about them, prior to that moment.
As our two weeks together drew to a close, there was one final task, which she needed me to perform. Nestled among the buildings of downtown New Bedford was a small church. It was within that church, where she sent me to enter the confessional and inform the priest of the impending murders. With that final seed planted, our time together was done. However, it wasn’t the last that I would see of her and, as we went our separate ways, my memory of our time together was washed away with the promise that it would one-day return.
In 1987, I was traveling on the highway from New Bedford to Mattapoisett, when I saw a grey van parked on the shoulder. Standing beside the van was the individual that had identified himself as my brother in 1984 when he had alerted me to the future discovery of the bodies. The van’s driver was a man who would later be named as my alleged brother’s unwitting accomplice in a case of attempted murder. A few days later, I saw the grey van on the side of the highway again. Only this time, I saw my proclaimed brother running from the woods to the van in a panic. He had the unmistakable look of someone who had just been caught in the act. He was giving the impression of his involvement in something, which had not yet begun to take place.
As foretold, the bodies began turning up, and in the spring of 1989 while the story of a serial killer striking the New Bedford area dominated the news, I found myself overwhelmed by the return of memories that were previously lost to me. All of those haunting images consisted of occasions where my mind had suppressed information regarding adoption. Laced among those recovered recollections, were the chilling images of those three individuals who spoke of impending murders years before they actually occurred.
Just as the self-professed killer had calculated, no one ever suspected a woman of committing the crimes. The authorities were locked into a search for a male suspect, apparently misdirected by DNA evidence, which indicated that the person they sought was a male. This distressing knowledge accompanied some of the most disturbing memories to trouble me. In those memories, I saw flashes of myself walking out of my residence in the north end of New Bedford subsequent to some personal recreation. Walking into the night, I curiously found myself at the head of a path that led into the woods, where I carelessly discarded the remnants of the evening’s aforementioned activities. On at least one of those occasions, I heard the voice of someone on the path whisper to me from the darkness. I asked who was there, but there was no answer.
The memories of mindlessly casting DNA samples into the woods and the mysterious voice in the night weighed heavily on my thoughts in 2000, when as a prisoner; they collected my DNA, to enter into a database for comparison with unsolved crimes. My concerns intensified, when after the approximate one month that it would take to process my DNA and enter it into their database, authorities announced that they were reopening the investigation into the serial killings. I wondered; was the voice in the night, the voice of an unseen killer who lurked in the shadows, acquiring my DNA to dapple on their crime scene canvas? Although, those fears plagued me for a time, the passage of time would eventually lay them to rest.
Now, after decades of silence, and a journey that has led me down virtually every path of an insolvable maze, I find myself standing at the threshold of the only remaining path left to travel. It is the path of revelation. Pulling its rusty gate free from overgrowth’s relentless grip, I begin the long walk into the unknown, by laying my cards on the table and my soul bare. As I traveled through my life, individuals planted the seeds of revelations regarding murders set to take place in a future of their own design. They planted those seeds in suppressed memories with the knowledge that one day those memories would resurface. These are things that I would never have revealed, were it not presumably the will of those who made the revelations, as they continue to test authority’s resolve to keep its own secrets safe.