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By Max Burbank

The unflinching eye of the scanning electron microscope makes brutally clear heretofore unrecognized connections, So obvious now that even the signature gray green, night vision goggle-like tint lent by the device cannot conceal the Scientific community's unfortunate but unanimous conclusions.

The long theorized linkage of UFO cultists; Southern Fried Free Lance Preachers, their veins lit with snake venom, teased by numerous flaming infected lesions and half healed puncture wounds, confused by the heredity of an obscene and tangled family tree more resembling a family bramble patch; Ed Gein; Albert 'The Fisherman' Fish; The Insidious Sax Romer, drops of his sweat so acidic the keys of his Remington boil at their Touch; Self mutilating hipsters in search of an identity, offering up tatty bills earned at the Food Court or in the alley behind it for another ludicrous piercing, another ridge of scarification, dreaming of the stones to beg for back alley Ubange lip Plates or neck extending graduated copper rings; Black-market untranslatable Asian animated pornography of an almost clinical stripe; Magazines for rare fetishes, shrink wrapped in three packs; Mexican devil head car fresheners; Antique, crumbling contraceptives purchased in truck stop washrooms; Amateur Trailer Park Tarantula and Boa Constrictor enthusiasts, dumping their pets in the dead of night at interstate rest stops after being failed by zoos and museums and animal rescue leagues and even the courage to administer euthanasia with a hammer or a burlap sack; Discovery Channel Addicts pleading with social workers to pay the cable bill, huffing a solution of hairspray and Spic n' Span out of a surgical glove, bloodshot eyes glued to 'Walking with Dinosaurs'; Withered, decrepit, tenured, insomniac academicians, prowling basement storerooms for dimly remembered biological oddities floating in jars of yellowing formaldehyde; Comic book collectors; Elvis impersonators; Lonely former teenagers more conversant with the works of S.E.Hinton than S.E.Hinton herself; Expertly forged Reliquary boxes; Articles hand torn from the Weekly World News, the tape that once held them to a prison wall a delicate ivory now; "Cape Fear"; "Cat People"; South American Wrestling Pictures; QVC; Hassam I' Saddah; "The Necronimicon", A leather bound copy of the Text of the New York Friar's Club Roast of Aleister Crowley; A coffee table book on instruments of Torture; A hermetically sealed bag with a biohazard sticker and the words "Panda Intestines" penned as if by a Narcoleptic six year old on the white label strip; A loop tape constantly playing some anonymous, long dead mother prophesying eyes poked out, the machine now hidden under rotting drifts of the complete 'Newark Star Ledger' and so never to be found or silenced; Brittle 78's of a Blind Negro singing through split lips, Bels Palsy, broken teeth, one lung whistling through multiple perforations the other full to bursting with the granulated remembrance of an apocalyptic dustbowl; The advent of Cheese in a Can; The Checkers Speech rippling outward toward the nearest sentient life; A sealed glass tube containing a sample of air from the Rosenbergh's death chamber; Six squares of linoleum taken from the Dallas Book Depository; The taxidermied remains of a Weimerauner Bitch with an unborn twin protruding from it's sternum; Actual posters advertising Houdini and Barnum and Canned Heat; The ghost of that kid you knew in Junior High who could fold his eyelids over and they'd stay that way, who died out at the Quarry cliff diving all goofed up on Boone's Farm, his sweaty left palm still tingling with the impression of it's first fevered handful of titty a scant three minutes before death, the body never found, the Gropee never the same, prematurely aged, her days now spent sailing an infinite sea of Alzheimer's and the smell of rotting plaster at a decaying rest home in Tupper Lake New York: Albert Disalvo allowing people to believe he was the Boston Strangler; The filthy, poorly stocked Pornographic bookstore at "South of the Border", Popular Science Essays on the implications of Martian Canals; Badge sashes from Boy Scouts whose mortal remains lie scattered like stars in distant Rice Paddies, a poorly faked Police glossy depicting a young cadet holding Jayne Mansfield's severed head aloft by the bloody tresses; a complete set of Wacky Package stickers, series #2; A mildew stained H.R. Puff N' Stuff costume used in the movie acquired in trade from the Second Unit Director in return for a handful of magic beans; a framed photo of Barnabus Collins; A Victorian Killing Jar purportedly belonging to one Alice Liddel for the purposes of Insect Collection and Identification; Various labeled glass jars containing the hair, fingernails and other less identifiable genetic samplings of Marie Laveau; twenty-three mint condition Dr. Midnight Decoder rings; A full bottle of The Moxie Nerve Food Tonic over one hundred years old; Fatman and Littleboy; A prosthetic leg with a Rorshach blot of puzzling stains…

Bits and pieces of a puzzle that when finally assembled form the fingerprint of a contagion from the last Millennium, still vital and deadly, highly infectious! Passed through blood, spit, mucus, touch, swimming pool water, air, clinging tenaciously to even the most carefully wrapped Halloween treats! Mutating relentlessly, evading detection, gestating for random and wholly unpredictable periods, resistant to even the most aggressive and risky chemical regimens! Exposed to intense heat or cold it becomes a spore capable of surviving indefinitely under conditions including but not limited to the depths of outer space, when inhaled it blooms once more! Soon the victim experiences an array of symptoms characterized by blinding ethnic hatreds, obsessive compulsive disorder, messianic delusions, the Game Show Network, Mayhem, Murder, Pillage and Death! Early stage sufferers seek each other out unknowingly, congregating at political events, accident scenes, sports riots and Star Trek Conventions! Genetic material from multiple highly individualized manifestations of 'The Complaint' commingles with each handshake and sneeze…

At first glance a jaundiced dipsomaniac perishing behind a Seven Eleven in Klamath Falls Oregon reveals himself to be a missing former Scientist Now on Wheels. A consuming fever of 128 degrees Fahrenheit makes the 'Old Gent' unapproachable by even the most dedicated Samaritan, but case notes engraved on the sheltering dumpster beside which he will die (using a stylus ingeniously fashioned from a broken automobile antenna) offer some faint ray of hope… until it becomes clear that in his final insanity the shockingly reduced Nobel Laureate believed himself to be Frederick Wertham.

A great shuffling of the deck long underway but only now detected proceeds. According to the unique fractal web of our neurons, we variously nail the doors shut, hide ourselves away in lead lined bunkers, Comandeer commercial airlines, assume the directorship of recently vacated religious communications networks, sell our children to the crusades or for their organs, embark on potentially dangerous liquid diets, smoke unfiltered camels through unhealed tracheotomy wounds, 'surf' the 'internet', and otherwise engage in practices which mimic the disease so effectively the afflicted and the clean cannot separate themselves or even know which uniform they wear themselves, but the truth of our arrogance can no longer be avoided. That great geolic Tabloid, The Cambrian Shale, heralded the news in 18 point type on every page but its asymmetric invertebrate readership while nodding sagely, assumed like us, they were immune.