"Old Virginia" by Laird Barron
This story came out of the collection "The Imago Sequence" by Laird Barron.
This was the first story I've read by Laird Barron. I was really impressed with his style and writing. He is definitely imaginative and tells a great story. I will be looking forward to reading more of his stories and collections.
This story was about a man named Roger Garland. He was a decorated military officer and now was working security for the "Company", black ops, most likely CIA. He was approached by a man of very high standing named Herman Strauss to do a final security job before completely retiring.
The job was supposed to be a simple babysitting job. Supervise a crew of security guys while two scientists did some research in a remote cabin owned by Strauss. Roger was not so easily duped into thinking it was just a simple babysitting job and asked a few more questions.
He found out the job was for a project called MK Ultra. A covert operation that was testing mind control, clairvoyance, remote viewing, and other things. The scientists would be working with one patient for a week and then they would come back with the data. Roger didn't really like the sound of what was being proposed, but decided to take the job against his better judgment.
One morning after waking up at the cabin he went outside to take care of some business and noticed that the tires on the truck were slashed. Someone wanted him to know they were there and didn't want them going anywhere. He told the news to his trusted friend Hatcher and they devised an action plan.
The next morning the crew set up a perimeter and fanned out. They looked for tracks and anything out of the ordinary. Unfortunately they found nothing suspicious. That made Roger all the more nervous. He didn't know what was out there and he didn't like it.
Now Roger wanted answers. He went to the scientists, Riley and Porter, and demanded some information. Porter didn't want to give anything up. He was tight-lipped about the whole operation. Roger knew a few things about it though. He wasn't in the dark. Roger let Porter know that he wasn't in the dark and demanded to know what was going on at the cabin that was so important.
Finally Porter broke down. He told Roger that if he wanted to see what was going on to follow him. Roger obeyed and they both went behind the secure metal door where the tests were being done. What Roger saw there scared him bad. He wished he hadn't seen what he saw and couldn't figure out how all of the testing and information gathering connected with what was behind that door.
Roger needed more information, but since Porter didn't like Roger he wasn't going to get anything more out of him. Roger tried to get some information out of Riley and succeeded. What he found out just confused him more.
He had a bad feeling about what was going to happen. He ended up having a good reason to feel that way. The end of the story really took off into a trippy haze of what the fuck just happened!
This story was taking place during the cold war, with the Communists and America. There was palpable worry picked up through the writing. The conflict of the Reds was a nice touch to the story. I don't the story could have happened without that conflict. That conflict really added some suspense. Was there a traitor in their midst? Were they found out? So many different conclusions could be drawn.
The beginning of the story was a bit slow. The story picked up steam in a slow and steady pace. As we were being introduced to the main character of the story the story was just sort of going along. Then it seemed out of nowhere the story just took off. The final part of the story was like 0-60mph. Wow it turned quick.
The end was a almost dream like. It was a spooky and scary and downright trippy. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be in that situation. A great spooky story for your local conspiracy theorist!