Formation of Gateway and Research Base
Notes from Aidan Gray’s Doctoral Research
While little in my ancestry betrays a history of the supernatural in Lanark, further research has led me to believe the town has long been troubled by curious phenomena. I conducted field interviews with local residents in the early days of my doctorate, hoping this qualitative data would help narrow the focus of my impending studies. To give context to local understandings of the town prior to the 20th century’s true fin de siecle, I here quote (anonymously) several residents of Lanark. To avoid confirmation bias I asked open questions about ‘odd experiences’ or ‘atmospheric peculiarities’, gathering participants via snowball sampling after placing an initial advert in the local paper, the Lanark Oracle.
Participant A (b. 1945).
I’ve lived here all my life you know. These days, few folk can say a thing like that. Three kids I brought up in this town. Watched each one leave, one by one. The place gets awful lonely and even in the summer...I mean, I used to watch the river sometimes. Used to get a lot of comfort out of watching rivers. Then the strangest thing happened. You know I don’t drink often and haven’t touched a drug in my life. That night I was sober as you can be, a little tired maybe but not a drop had passed by lips. What I saw was this: neon started streaming through the water. It wasn’t quite glow-stick rich--it was brighter than that. It was a lemony green colour, whole ribbons of it rippling in the river’s currents. I stared at it a little too long I think. Even now when I blink, my vision is cut up with those neon ribbons. It’s been twenty years, but the doctors still don’t know what to think of it. I rub my eyes and it’s those snaking shapes I see. It might be what they call on the news “pollution”. I don’t know though, it doesn’t seem like anything a person could make. I’m not saying alien, but whatever leaked that neon wasn’t animal or human.
Participant B (b. 1963)
You ask me about atmospheres but I wouldn’t know the first thing about that. Once, though, I saw all these eddying whirls--I guess in America you’d call them tornadoes--spinning up the street. They were definitely headed somewhere, all seven of them, a kind of black I’d never seen before. Imagine oil, but not reflective. They were twisting around all this dark energy, stuff that was liquorice thick. It was a sunny day but no light bounced off it. Not a breeze in the air to suggest these things were natural. I don’t know where they went. I swear they were licking the walls, it was like they wanted to eat up the buildings.
Participant C (b. 1981)
Daddy tells me not to talk about this. He says it’s a secret. One time I was playing in the woods with Sarah, you know Sarah: she’s tall and works in the café. Maybe I’m not supposed to say. Anyway, we were in the woods near the falls and saw something glinting in the moss. We’ve found stuff before, mostly glass bottles and once a big pile of bolts, another time a diamond necklace which turned out to be metal and rhinestones. This was different. It was...a shard of something. It didn’t look finished. There was this beautiful melted part, like dents in a fancy car. Sarah dared me to touch it and I did but it hurt and I don’t remember what happened next. A blinding light, like when you switch off an old-fashioned telly and it sucks into blackness. I woke up in bed sweating and Sarah was gone and Daddy said apparently I’d eaten a bad mushroom. He said he gave me Ipecac to make me sick. When I open my hand you can see scars on my palm. Nobody ever explained that.
Participant D (b. 1975)
There was a boy I went to school with. People don’t talk about him anymore. They say he went away--as lots of folk do--to see the world or whatever. I knew him. I mean, I’m not saying we were in love but there was something between us. He showed me a scar starring the concrete in a hidden lane near the high street and told me lightning had struck there someday. He showed me the burns on his fingertips and they did not seem like any burns I’d ever seen before, and I’m a nurse. We used to hang out by the river and he talked about patterns in the wind. He dropped out of school before anyone else but he knew so much about things I could hardly bear it. I remember how his burns looked sort of vitreous, milky. Pearls on the tips of his fingers. People pretended he was born that way, but I knew better. There was something about the way he talked of the wind. He said even Lanark was “blessed with perilous zephyrs” and to this day I have no idea what he meant. One morning he left a note on my doorstep, held fast by a rock with a symbol etched on it. I’d draw you the symbol but my husband threw the rock in the river when he moved it, said it was bad luck. It’s best I don’t recreate it. The note was all in code anyway, all these 1s and 0s like the secret language of computers. It sounds weird but sometimes I think I see him sometimes, a shadow sitting where we used to by the river. If it’s him, then he’s thinner than ever, barely a sliver.
Such testimonies hint continuously at both unusual climatological phenomena and mysterious objects associated with local woodland and waters.
Although the above testimonies refer to events which date back several decades, recently acquired evidence from the diaries of Mr. Douglas Payne reveals the emergence of some sort of organisation at this specific time in the late 1980s. Payne’s diaries were invariably recorded in cheap jotters, not unlike those used in schools. The entries are sporadic and tend towards certain events which allow Payne to disclose his suspicions regarding an emergent syndicate of sorts in the town. Many are detailed rambles on technology; Payne appears very much a hardware enthusiast. Although his writings on computers and various tools aspires to the detailed grandeur of expertise, I have found nothing particularly relevant, accurate or indeed useful among these tracts. Instead, I have included more personal narratives which disclose contexts for Lanark’s Vital Materials hardware store and its associated figures, including his sister Martha Payne, who spent some time doing deliveries for the owners. Prior to discovering these entries, I was not aware that Payne even had a sister, despite knowing the man for two decades. His handwriting is close to illegible at points, but I have endeavoured to reproduce for ease of reading his words in print.