Castle Mirage - The Prelude:
Gothic Fiction -- 4500 words
Proposed introduction to Castle Mirage, by my late
mother, Alice Brennan, published June 1971 by Belmont Books,
carrying the code Belmont B75-2133, and now offered for
reprinting by the author's son, and by Singer Media Corporation.
This is the story of little mice. David Ferrie's mice. No,
this is the story of Conjurella, and her daughter, Glinda; they
were both there when I first met David Ferrie in Ohio, at the Old
covered Bridge; so were Mama and Daddy and Uncle Johnny. Everyone
is dead now, except me, and, I think, Glinda, so there is no one
to ask. But I think it must have been the summer of 1953. I
started school in September of 1953 at Swamp School on Bricker
Road in Emmett, Michigan; a one-room school on a gravel road
which boasted my late mother as the CEO of its Board; it was
sometime around then that the meeting at the Old Covered Bridge
It looked something like a covered wagon, over a small stream
through a narrow road cutting through fields and brush that
stretched on forever. This was 1953. The only war we might have
lost had been over for less than a decade. Oh-ess-ess was a
whisper that lingered in the air; a song that was over, yet the
melody haunted us. War measures meant many things to those
caught in the web of that whisper, oh-ess-ess, so softly spoken,
a love song, a lullaby, a death threat. I don't remember, but I
think that whisper was in the air when we first met David Ferrie.
Uncle Johnny helped arrange it; Uncle Johnny said he was a
finder. Daddy and Uncle Johnny park the car right on the bridge,
and get out "to take a walk" -- there is something on
the car radio, or maybe Daddy and Uncle Johnny tell us, about
"two escaped convicts" believed loose in that area.
Mama and Conjurella get in the front seat. Glinda and I are in
the back seat. Has MK-ULTRA begun yet? They must have given me
some of the amnesiac hypnotic drug that Dr. E, the hypnotist
whose work formed the basis for Mama's obsession with hypnosis as
noted in Castle Mirage, would later fore on me in a more
conventional setting. Glinda is my age, she is five. she sees the
Perfect soldier, David Ferrie, standing guard. Everyone has told
me: "Don't see that soldier," but Glinda says, "He
Sees that soldier."
David Ferrie uses his O.S.S. code name, Perfect Soldier. I
don't remember how I know that. He assumes battle stances,
brandishes his rifle, and threatens the children with rape. but
it is Conjurella who is raped, by the "escaped
convicts" who inevitably appear as David Ferrie looks on.
Glinda and I are spared, and, I think, so is Mama. But I was too
still in that back seat throughout the attack, too oblivious to
what was happening - they had used something akin to Dr. E's
"red lollipops", a favorite drug ploy of the MK-ULTRA
hypnotist who would some day send the Perfect Soldier on a
mission to kill John Kennedy.
I have the Brass Monkey, I think Uncle Johnny gave it to me. I
don't know if it had anything to do with the OSS. It's not brass
all the way through, and it says "Germany" on the
bottom, not "Deutchlann" - Germany.
David Ferrie is hard to remember.
I said I went to Swamp School, that was for my first and
second grades. In the third grade, I started parochial school,
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish School, also in Emmett. That was in
September of 1955. I attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel for my
third, fourth, fidth, and sixth grades. Daddy, who had always had
intermittent violent fits, accusing my mother of an extra-marital
affair (and me, of being the offspring of a local handyman from
Texas, Frank Tilton) was on his best behavior through that
period. He had been elected, or appointed, I forget which, to a
position on the St. Clair County Board of Education, to match my
mother's, on the Swamp Board. I am trying hard to be a Catholic
religious sissy, worrying about mortal sin, telling me priest in
confession about my Brigitte Bardot pin-ups, and studying
prayerbooks. But in the summer of 1959, after my sixth-grade
year, Daddy got in trouble. Getting out of it involved using his
family "in hypnotic experiments".
That was how we met Dr. E. And how we all met David Ferrie
again. Keep going north on M-19, and you will reach Yale,
Michigan, a tiny town with its own tiny airport. David Ferrie,
Who is calling himself David Ferris by then, flew into the Yale
airport in he pre-dawn hours to meet with my Dad, and follow
behind us in a car, as we drove farther north, to Hopeville, to
meet the hypnotist, Dr. E. There was no doubt about it; we were
My Dad is introduced, and he extends his hand to David
Ferrie/Ferris and says "I attended to Ferris
Institute in Big Rapids..." He stresses the word Ferris;
he knows he is in trouble and he is looking for something that
will give him an edge conversationally. but there is to be no
conversation. A committee of MK-ULTRA agents roughly hustle him
back to his car. Back in the car, he tells Mama: "We're
cooked. This is the same guy Johnny took us to meet".
My memories of Doctor E are very sketchy, and they are not
always easily rendered sequential. I know that at some point,
through the use of amnesiacs so we would have no recollection of
the more threatening encounters, he gained our trust, although it
is important to remember that it was as difficult remembering
just what had taken place previously with Dr. E then, as it is
I know that at one point, Daddy was in Dr. E's office, and
Mama and I were in the waiting room, and Dr. E came out and said,
"I want to see how fast you can eat a red lollipop,"
and handed us two red candies, which caused us both to pass out
immediately; I only vaguely remember us being carried limply into
his private office, and that, only after over three decades.
We went up north in August of 1959 on a trip, and I started
back to school in September, at the old Swamp School again, and
it was around then that I met Lee through Dr. E. Lee flew into
the Yale airport with David Ferrie; I was always afraid of David
Ferrie, but I was never afraid of Lee. He did not know about the
threatening circumstances of our initial meetings with Dr. E and
David Ferrie. He said that Dr. E was going to give him
"almost god-like powers", and that he was doing
"something important for the government". He said he
was going on a trip, but he would be back to see me every so
often. He spoke of great authority that he would have on his
return, and his explanations of that coming authority vacillated
between the governmental and the mystical.
I saw Lee only a very few times, and one of the memories of
that era is an implant, because Dr. E. shoved me up against his
screen, as I'll describe later, and said, "You're going to
meet Lee Oswald again at swamp School, but this time it won't be
real." the meeting that was real is sketchy. I don't
remember how he got there, but I remember he was standing at the
very edge of the road, telling me he was concerned bout how I was
being kicked around, but he was going to do something about it. A
lady who drove by and saw us, Kathy Malarkey, was later put into
a mental institution, though I don't know if there's a
I only saw Lee the first few days of September of 1959 when I
entered the seventh grade. By the time I finished that school
year, the U-2 incident had taken place, and Dr. E told us:
"Don't worry about that one. We control both sides." On
another occasion, someone associated with David Ferrie told me
that MK-ULTRA, which was directly overseen by then C.I.A.
Director Allen "You're a Good Man, Mr. Dulles" Dulles,
was in the process of artificiaally creating a disease that would
Make the people who caught it hairless "just like David
I am trying to place all this timewise; I know that in the
early days, I took home a comic book from Dr. E's waiting room;
it was in issue of Robin Hood, under the brand Quality
Comics, and several years old. By this time, Mama and I were so
disoriented by Dr. E's sessions, that we had forgotten the early,
threatening encounters, and Mama encouraged me to leave a comic
book in the office in return, which I did, a copy of Brave
& Bold #28, an issue which introduced the Justice League,
a team of DC Comics superhereos, I was later to have some
marginal connection with DC Comics, and my stories appear in some
late 1970s issues of the former DC title, House of Mystery.
I am also thinking that my parents may have taken other
children from the neighborhood to see Dr. E, and I am wondering
if there are any witnesses.
We do not see David Ferrie again with Dr. E, but there are
disjointed memories of meeting with David Ferrie in my home, and
in a neighbor's home, under so much drugging that I was only
dimly, barely aware that my surroundings were real. it must have
been later in his life, not around the Old Covered Bridge
meeting, because in 1953, he still looked like a man, but by the
time these meetings took place, he was just a fat, bald old blob.
He looked something like my Catholic godfather, Paul, who was
also fat and bald, so I asigned him the name "Bad
Paul", which he liked, thouh he always did his best to be as
threatening as possible during these meetings, though he never
Laid a hand on me.
I further remember them harassing me at a campground outside
St. Ignace, around the time of the launching of Telstar, the
first satellite to relay television signals, which you could then
see orbiting like a shooting star. It was in August of 1962,
before I started my tenth grade year, no longer at Swamp School,
but now attending Peck High School in Peck, Michigan. Campers,
including my parents and myself, liked to sit around a campfire,
and watch Telstar. We loved Telstar; I even had the 45rpm it
inspired. but on this particular occassion, we were discussing
the U-2. A man at the campfire said, well, Powers was just a
coward; he had a lethal injection to take if he was shot down, he
should have taken it. But one by one, everyone, including my
parents, leave the fire, and this one man remains, and he says,
the C.I.A., that the U-2 was with, he works for them also. I say,
hey, great. He looks guilty for a second, collects himself, and
tells me the CIA has a use for me.
In October of 1962, we flew to New Orleans with David Ferrie
and Air America, as I could help with the Fair Play for Cuba
Committee very briefly. To understand the manner in which the
Hopeville MK-ULTRA office - The Project, as I learned it was
called- could be lethal with its participants one week, and a
cooperative confidant and ally with them the next, it will be
useful to understand, by way of a comparison, the effects of two
drugs known to the general populace today; Rohypnel and Ritalin.
Rohypnel produces unconsciousness and amnesia; Ritalin produces a
very singular one-pointedness in users allowing them to
concentrate on exactly what they are doing, and nothing else. It
is possible for a person under the MK-ULTRA counter-parts of
these drugs, combined with hypnosis and post-hypnotic suggestion,
to, for instance, blithely pass out Fair Play For Cuba Committee
literature in New Orleans, without ever even questioning how he
got there, or believing that it should be questioned. also, there
are processes of MK-ULTRA induced amnesia which make it virtually
fool-proof. In the induced trance state, the victim is subjected
to threats on his family members and himself. He is forced to
witness real or contrived torture-killings of other human beings
while in this state. Then, he is withdrawn from the scene of this
abuse, given hypnotic commands in conjunction with drugs, told
that the abusive treatment was all imaginary, and that he must
not remember it; if he will not remember it, it will not be real.
I remember the Fair Play For Cuba Office in New Orleans, and I
remember the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade office on the other
side of the building. I remember asking someone, I don't remember
who, but it wasn't Lee, "Are we for or against
Communists?" And he said, "Both." and I laughed.
Anyway, Lee says the big Fair Play For Cuba campaign
was in August, and I missed it, but we pass out a few pamphlets,
and on the way back, we go into a store, it's just the two of us,
on foot, and he buys me a candy bar, and he tells me to give them
a pamphlet, tell them you're Lee Oswald, he says, and I
do. And he laughs. Not far down the street, he stops by a
tree. He wants to talk.
He says, "I'm doing dangerous work. If anything happens
to me, I want you to take care of the family."
"Sure," I say.
But I really don't want any part of this. After we fly back,
that night, Daddy pretends to have a fit. I say pretends,
because now that I am an adult, and not under the influences of
the substances forced upon me during the incidents, I see very
well how his threatening, seemingly erratic behavior, contributed
to the process of drug-and-hypnosis induced amnesia. My first
example of it was, in the early days of visiting Dr. E, Daddy and
I took separate pills, voluntarily this time, on the premise that
they would help to "induce hypnosis", which, at that
time, we thought we were studying. Driving back, Mama is crying,
and I am lathargic and disoriented. I mention the pill I took,
and Daddy flips out: "I took that pill, not
you!" He stops the car and becomes more threatening. I say
to Mama: "Daddy has gone crazy." Mama says: "This
is a lot worse than Daddy going crazy."
The incident following the flight from New Orleans was a
parallel; he began yelling "I want you to forget that trip!
You're going to forget that trip!" And I did, again, for
more than three decades.
I also forgot this:
At some point, Dr E asked if I would like to play the shooting
gallery game that he had. I said that I would. He put me in front
of a kind of television screen with a head brace on the seat in
front of it. He says, "We don't have the gun that goes with
it hooked up yet. But when you see the cowboy shoot the penny, you'll
have good luck."
I look at the screen coming on, and he hits me with something,
I think an injection in my neck, it hurts, and I slump. But the
pictures form on the screen, and I can hear the words through
First there is a picture of a penny.
"SEE THE CENT WITH LINCOLN'S HEAD."
Then there is a picture of John Kennedy.
"THEN THINK OF THE SQUIRREL WITH JOHN F. KENNEDY'S
Girl's voice: "IT'S NOT REALLY LINCOLN. IT'S JUST A CENT
WITH LINCOLN'S HEAD."
Then there are moving pictures of a cowboy tossing a penny
into the air.
"Pop!" he shoots it with a revolver, but instantly,
the picture is of John Kennedy.
The voice says: "THINK OF THE CENT WITH LINCOLN'S HEAD,
THEN SHOOT THE SQUIRREL WITH JOHN F. KENNEDY'S HEAD."
At another point, Dr. E shows me a whole film. It is sometime
after I have seen something on real television, I think Disney,
about the MacGregor family of Scotland, which I liked, about all
the oppression they endured, and how, in the end, everybody stood
up for them, and they are back on top. Dr. E. tells me he has
something similar about the Fitzgerald family. I watch it, and I
only remember the ending. It's set in the late middle ages or
something, the Fitzgerald family is put through all sorts of
problems, but in the end, there's a big crowd scene, and the
speaker, a Fitzgerald himself, has just won some major victory,
and he has everyone in the crowd with Fitzgerald blood yell
"hooray for the Fitzgeralds!" The voices start up, and
in seconds, you see that they are all over the place in the
crowd. And that's the end.
Dr. E says to Daddy: "Well, I scared him with it. He'll
be scared as hell of that story some day."
On the morning of November 22, 1963, I am awakened by Daddy
unexpectedly in the pre-dawn hours. He says we are going to see
Dr. E, then we are going on a trip. I think he means vacation, so
I say fine.
We reach the tiny Yale airport, deserted in the pre-dawn
hours, in no time. Daddy and I proceed to David Ferries plane,
where Dr. E is waiting. Dr. E produces a hypodermic needle. His
face is grim and he is wearing a parka in the pre-dawn cold.
Now I am scared, and try to get away. I yell "I don't
want a shot!" and try to run. I know now that I m about to
be kidnapped. I am fifteen years old now, but a pale, sickly
fifteen, and I am in no shape to fight these men for my freedom.
I struggle, but Dr. E injects me anyway, and I fall. The last
thing I se before falling is the parka-clad face of Dr. E.
When I awaken, in the storage room of the sixth floor of the
Texas Book depository building in Dallas, it is broad daylight.
They have obviously brought me in crated up, or rolled up, in
something. Anyway, I get dumped out, and David Ferrie kicks me in
the ribs, and turns to my Dad.
"There's the assassin," David Ferrie says.
Daddy and David Ferrie make me stand agaisnt some cartons of
books, and not look around. I am groggy. Sometimes when I would
go up north to the Upper Peninsula with Mama and Daddy, they
liked to explore abandoned buildings, places where I didn't
always feel they had a right to be. I can't remember the
injection now, and I amtrying to place just what is going on,
whether it is one of these unauthorized romps Daddy liked to take
through old buildings.
"Are we supposed to be here?" I asked, groggily.
David Ferrie laughs.
"Don't worry about that," he says, "If
anybody bothers you for being here, you send them right to
Daddy and David Ferrie are laughing now, and I'm beginning to
think everything is all right. At some point, someone has told me
that I am in Dallas, where Lee is now, and I ask to see him
before we leave.
"Did you want to talk to him about comic books or
something?" David Ferrie asks.
I say yes, that I wanted to tell him about the new Justice
League comic just out, and that lee liked the Justice League,
talked about how great it was that DC comics had brought back
their old comic book series, the Justice society, from the 1940s.
"Well, he's downstairs pushing a broom. He's down on the
second floor pushing a broom."
At some point, the lights went out. I don't know if I was
injected or dosed somehow again, or whether post-hypnotic
suggestion alone did the trick. Anyway, a hood was placed over my
head, and then part of it pulled away and the gunsight pressed
against my left eye.
Daddy gives the hypnotic command: "WHEN I YELL NOW,
PULL THE TRIGGER."
Remembering this over three decades later, I can hear David
Ferrie saying "I don't want him to see the gun!!" as he
pulls the hood over my face.
David Ferrie says to Daddy: "Can he keep that right eye
closed? If he can't, I'll kill him."
Now that funny screen of Dr. E's, at first it said "SHOOT
THE SQUIRREL WITH JOHN F. KENNEDY'S HEAD". But just at the
last, when they made me watch it, it said "SHOOT THE
SQUIRREL WITH JOHN F. KENNEDY'S HEAD. THEN SHOOT THE COWBOY
BESIDE HIM. YOU DON'T LIKE COWBOYS ANYMORE. YOU DON'T LIKE THIS
COWBOY (Picture of Governor Connaly in a Cowboy hat). SHOOT THE
SQUIRREL WITH JOHN F. KENNEDY'S HEAD. THEN SHOOT THE COWBOY
Then they lift me up, in front of the open window.
I hear the voices: "Can he get up by himself?"
"Lift him up!" "Don't let him open that eye!"
Slowly, I am lifted up, groggy and disoriented. I hear Daddy's
crying voice say: "Please don't open that right eye, please
don't open that eye, oh god, please don't open that eye."
David ferrie says "Can you see John Kennedy on the little
screen?" My heart leaps as I see John Kennedy in the
convertible six floors below, but only through the "little
screen", i.e. the gunsight; I secretly like John Kennedy,
though Daddy hates him, and I am glad to see him on "the
little screen". But it all happens so quickly, seeing John
Kennedy and then Daddy yells:
My finger automatically contracts on what I now know was the
trigger. I have never seen the Zapruder film, except in little
glimpses. In my recollection of the incident, this is what took
place: My shot hits the President in the chest. To my amazement,
he writhes sideways as the bullet hits. David Ferrie takes the
rifle instantly, and fires two more shots as I collapse.
As he does, Daddy shouts: "Don't shoot Jacky, Ferrie!
Don't shoot Jackie, or I'll kill ya right now!"
David ferrie says: "Shut up, Bill!" - then, as three
more shots ring out from elsewhere on the street - "Back-up!
Good men! They could have left me hanging, but they didn't!"
I look out the window now, but David Ferrie gives the hypnotic
command: "Don't look at the man we just shot!"
Either Daddy or David Ferrie says: "It's the end of the
world. There's nothing but chaos out there now. Nothing."
I am groggy and disoriented, and am trying to take these words
in a Catholic religious sense. I am looking around for signs of a
Biblical Judgement Day, even though I cannot look toward the
convertible at all, even if I wanted to, that was how
great their power over me.
The next thing I remember is a man with glasses and a business
suit, thirtysomething, short hair and professional-looking,
entering. By now, we are all away from the window.
I call him Ultra Subaltern.
Ultra Subaltern says, matter-of-factly: "Everything go
David Ferrie says, "Well, Bill lost his head for a
minute, but he's all right now." Daddy had no right to fly
in David Ferrie's face like that over Jackie, they're thinking.
Daddy nods nervously.
"You'll pay for that though, Bill," David Ferrie
Ultra Subaltern goes to the window.
Daddy says "You're going to the window?!" Ultra
Subaltern says: "I was told to assess the situation. One of
the ways to assess is by looking. Everyone is looking out windows
Ultra Subaltern leaves.
The next thing I remember is David Ferrie yelling
"There's the signal!" Immediately, we were hustled into
the hallway, with him carrying a suitcase. We walk rapidly down
to the second floor. I do not yet know that the President has
been shot, in spite of the fact that I've just witnessed it, and
participated in it. My head is coming together a little now, and
I say groggily that I'd like to see Lee now that we're in
"You'll see him," says David Ferrie, then:
"Casey, you never believe me on these things, but they don't
even remember you. We slipped them something. You'll see."
We see Lee in the halls of the second floor, sweeping. I say,
"Hi, Lee!" but he doesn't even look toward me.
Immedi_tely, David ferrie starts yelling at him: "I've got
some friends here and I'm telling you we're through with you, you
dumb sonofabitch, you goddamned fairy, yeah you goddamned
I don't remember it all, but in the end, David Ferrie pushes
Lee in the chest hard. I am embarrassed by this hostility toward
a man I intended to meet as a friend. Lee is stoical,
tight-lipped, and condescending, like he's just barely putting up
with this abuse.
During this, people run by, and a woman yells,
"Something's going on out there!"
Lee starts to walk away, and David Ferrie says, "Where
are you going?"
Lee says: "I'm going downstairs for a Coke." The
altercation with David Ferrie has prevented Lee from learning
that the President has been shot.
As Lee walks away, I step forward apologetically, and say.
"Er...uh...Lee, the new Justice League comic came
He looks at me blankly, and keeps walking. I feel my face
redden. What could I have done wrong?
I don't remember the trip back, but the next thing I know, I
was in a chair in front of a desk with Dr. E in it. Dr. E says,
"we're taking you to school. Walk as fast as you can, and
the faster you walk, the faster you'll forget this. you'll be
late, so walk up to a girl, and tell her you went squirrel
hunting, this morning, and as soon as you do, you'll forget all
this, and the whole trip never happened."
Next I was hurrying down the halls of Peck High School.
But this was the story of little mice, David Ferrie's mice,
that he used in his experiments while he made the disease that
would make everyone who got it bald like him. No, this was the
story of Conjurella, who divorced Uncle Johnny, and though she
wrote for a while, I never saw Glinda again. No, this was the
story of Castle Mirage, and my mother's obsession with
hypnosis as demonstrated in this book, and how that obsession might
have come about, in an alternate world, in a paralell time. Not
what truly happened, for that, no one knows, nor will,
ever. Not truth, but Gothic Fiction; Alice: Life, what is it but