The Gentlemen Nerds


Fear: Loss of Control

This one’s for Mark’s fear, mentioned in ep50.

by Michael Ashleigh Finn

You ever wonder what happens to the original psyche when a person is possessed, Doctor?
No, of course not. You’re a woman of science. You don’t believe in such things. To you, it’s explained away by misfiring neurons, or improper brain chemistry. You wear that little gold cross, and go to church, and believe in your own way…but not this, not the ugly side of it all, not possession. The Catholics even hide it away.
Let me tell you what happens to us, the dispossessed. We’re not evicted. We’re right here, in the middle of it. We watch everything it does with our bodies, watch it destroy our lives, like the one bit of sanity left peaking out of Charlie Manson’s brain, powerless to do a damned thing…no pun intended.
Actually, scratch that. I’ll lay odds that what led Manson to do the things he did was sanity. He’s probably stark raving sane.
Lord knows I’m not.
Here I am, peeking at what he’s doing to me, to my life, to you, from behind the curtains of my prison…my own mind, worse than a nutshell, worse than Denmark, worse than Pittsburgh …wrapping those curtains around me like a security blanket, sucking my imaginary thumb. Feeling claustrophobic.
I’ve tried breaking my prison. Tried shouting…the echo is deafening. Tried to reason with it. There’s never any answer.
After a while, you begin to think that maybe you’re the figment of it’s imagination, that you’re not real. You never inhabited this body, you just think you did. That maybe there’s a split personality developing, and you’re it.
Then, for a brief moment, you remember the feel of the sun on your face, the warmth of it, the smell of the air…sensation, period…and you know you weren’t always trapped. And with that realization comes the fear, and despair, and ZOOM! You plummet right back down into your own tiny hell, your little room with no real sensation, watching the Other take over your life again, just a man who might as well be strapped to a chair, eyes propped open, and watch something else have its fun with your body, your friends, your job…your wife.
And the insanity sets in for a while, and you start to wonder if you’re a fig newton of someone’s emancipation.
Ahem. Figment. Sorry. Started to slip, there.

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Fear: Deep Water

A story reprinted for Joseph’s fear of what lies beneath the waves, from Paramount’s JAWS 25th anniversary celebration.

By Michael Ashleigh Finn

Doctorates. Experience. Press coverage with that beautiful bastard of a specimen in Amity. You’d think people’d believe me. They never do. Especially the politicians.
It’s happening again. Only much. Much bigger than before. Hollywood would love to get their hands on this…isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in a sequel? Make it bigger, more intense?
Remind me to drop a few studio execs in the ocean when I get out of here.
Sleepy little town. That’s the image it tries to project…in reality, it’s a tourist trap. Lately, it’s been a buffet for sharks.
“Dr. Hooper, I’m glad you could make it.”
The town’s Chief Medical Examiner had the unlikely name of Brandywine McBride. Slim girl, blonde hair braided back to allow her to work… before you go getting any ideas, she’s twenty years my junior, and I’m happily married. She was a tad young for her position, but Bar Harbour only had two M.E.’s anyway.
I shrugged out of my jacket…it gets cold in Maine, even during the summer, for those of us taken up down south…and folded it over my arm. “Dr. McBride, I don’t mean to be rude, but why the expense of dragging me up here?”
She adjusted her glasses. “You’re the expert.”
“I teach. I do seminars. I’m not a forensic pathologist anymore.”
She grinned a little knowing smile. Ask any pathologist…the way of thinking soaks into your brain.You never really quit. I may have been a marine biologist first, but forensics had become a minor hobby of mine for a decade or two. It had left a mark.
I looked at her. She looked back. I sighed. “What do you have?”
If this was Hollywood, she would have pulled a corpse or three out of the meat locker. In fact, she merely called me over to the board and grabbed some flimsies, which she started sticking up on the
lighted surface.
I squinted at the close-ups of the bites. Multiple victims, apparently children from the size of the wounds. “Well, they’re definitely not from the same shark. Radials will tell you that. Tiger frenzy,
maybe? Rare, but known to happen.”
“They’re separate attacks.”
I arched an eyebrow. “Really? I think you just skewed the statistics for this year. You have seventy-five percent of the world’s attacks right here. Any fatalities?”
She nodded. “One. Several attacks…but when the body washed up on the beach, I was finally able to convince the powers that be that we needed an expert on Elasmobranch behavior.”
I blinked at her. “You have several tiger sharks out there munching on kids, and they wouldn’t let you call in help until now?”
She blinked back. “Kids?”
I squinted at the pictures again. “Multiple bite patterns means multiple sharks. Few sharks will even nip at humans, most spit us back out…not enough fat on our bones to be seals. Of those, fewer still will tolerate each other at close proximity, refusing to share territory. Given that, the largest speciesI know of that could possibly make those bites would be the tiger…on children.”
“Doctor…I hate to break this to you, but those are adults.”

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Letters from the Field: Dear Ottis

Dear Ottis-

I enclose the results of the leads you gave me on finding cyptids, with mixed results.

No really, I checked.

Does not come alive at night and eat people, despite reports.

  1. The chupacabra in New Mexico turned out to be a cobra named Chappie. You need to maybe start typing your notes instead of hand writing them, you’re confusing yourself.
  2. The one in Nevada turned out to be an Elvis impersonator on LSD and speedballs who attacked some goats. He gets out of jail in Nov.
  3. The mermaid sighting in Seattle? By the docks? No more coffee for you.
  4. While I was there I checked out that troll you mentioned under a bridge. It’s a sculpture, Ottis. And no, that’s not just during the day…it doesn’t turn to flesh at night and eat people. I checked.
  5. That sasquatch you sent me after in Canada, around Lake Magog and Mount Assiniboine? The one that supposedly had built a house on the lake so he could hang out with Nessie’s cousin? That’s Brian Blessed’s summer home. For the last time, he is not a sasquatch.
  6. Likewise, no sightings of Nessie’s cousin.
  7.  I did, however, run into something in Alaska, near where you said the Jersey Devil likes to go fishing. It was during a snowstorm, so I couldn’t quite make out what  it was. It had a vaguely hyena shape to it, except it was crouched back on two legs and it was like it was wearing chitonous armor of some sort. And appeared to have tentecles. (Like I said, it was storming.)   It snatched the goat I had as bait and ran off, either screaming or cackling, it was hard to tell. One of the tentacles spat something at my face, and by the time I could see again, it had disappeared into the storm.
  8. Given #2 above, and despite having no idea what a chupacabra would be doing in Alaska…or with tentacles…I’m going to file him under “chupacabra” sighting. And name him Elvis.



Sir Brian: Still not a sasquatch.

PS: I picked up that classic car you wanted me to haul back to you. Since I still have more of my search left, I’m driving it around instead of busing. Had a mechanic check under the hood and change the oil. He claims it wasn’t oil but “black blood of the Earth.” Weird.