Published by HoneyColony

La Brea and Sunset. He was there when my car came to a stop at the traffic lights. Shoeless and ragged, he swiveled between the lanes like a faulty pendulum, handing out dirty fliers to drivers who tried to remain invisible. When he got closer, I dug my nose into my iPhone and pretended to text something urgent. By then he had plastered the flier against my window.

“They Are Already Here,” the flier read.

I looked up at the guy to assess the threat level. Hidden behind a caveman beard, a grimy layer of industrial pollution, and clumped- up mono-brows, I jolted at the sight of a Renaissance Man. His features reminded me of Mark Twain, or Einstein. But he also had a Wyatt Earp moustache? When his eyes locked in with mine, I settled on Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the African missionary.

His stare transformed me into an eight-year old schoolboy, curled up in the principal’s office, under suspicion for setting a fire in the school toilet.

“Do you agree?“ Schweitzer asked.

I wasn’t sure what he was asking.  Maybe he wanted me to take responsibility for the fire?

“Yes, Sir.” I stammered to the toothless man loitering next to my car.

I was playing it safe. If this guy was Schweitzer, or some other intellectual giant with the power to distort time and space, then at least I was being cautious.

Before I could determine which side he was on, Schweitzer swiveled out of sight. I caught him in my rearview mirror, moving towards the beamer behind me. Who was he talking to now?

A pang of jealousy somehow traveled into my foot. I hit the pedal while the lights were still red. A Russian fashion junkie stared at me through giant Gucci shades as I came to a screeching halt an inch away from her rear.

“They are inside you.” I heard another voice, this time from behind me.

I turned around quickly to make sure no one was somehow entangled into the seat fabric.

A car honked, then another one. The lights had turned green. I sped off with a red face, and felt my stomach churn.

Phase 1: Realizing The Invasion

Diary entry, 7PM, July 1st, 2013. Day 1 of SCRAM diet. Took 12 capsules in the morning. Can SCRAM screw with your brain? Concerned by two visions. Greeted a dead man in traffic lights. And the voices from the backseat. Oh, and dealt with a suppressed memory from second grade!

I started the SCRAM Intestinal Parasite Formula after traveling back from Haiti. While there I had suffered mild food poisoning, which  I managed to successfully wipe out with Cipro. But like most antibiotic treatments, the end result was that I had also wiped out my immune system, thereby opening the doors to something even more virulent. That something else was now operating on me like The Inquisition.

My colon had turned into Niagara Falls. I was peeing through the wrong hole. I had lost 10 pounds in five days and was down to 149lbs.

I had to find a cure fast.

A doctor at Cedars Sinai, a charismatic Italian woman with a heavy accent, listened calmly to my story. Then she asked what my shit was like. I told her it was like pea soup from World War I, sans the peas.

“Yes, I see,” she said. “I would need a sample.”

I told her I could give her one instantly.

I’d already given a stool test out to another lab, but the results were taking too long. By the time I was able to find out what was gnawing at me, I calculated that I would be down to seven lbs, assuming a linear weight attrition rate.

I was considering another blast of Cipro to stop me from vanishing into thin air, but Lisa, a naturopath , advised against it.

“If you take more antibiotics, you will subject yourself to a total immunological breakdown,” Lisa said matter-of-factly. “The bug that is inside you will be able to learn, adapt, mutate and attack your loopholes. I recommend you fight this the natural way.”

SCRAM was the natural way, Lisa explained.

I read the label before taking the first dose: “Unwanted organisms are an ubiquitous, lurking, and a significant deterrent to health. They feed off your nutrients, and excrete highly toxic waste. SCRAMTM dietary supplement uses time tested herbs black walnut, cloves, and wormwood to kill unwanted organisms.

Phase 2: Understanding The Invader

That night I had a dream. It started like a regular, pleasant travelogue. I was somewhere in South America. Unidentifiable friends were hanging around a swimming pool. Two braless girls. Cocktails. Then something happened that I have never before experienced.

Someone hacked into my dream.

He didn’t belong to the dream, yet he was there. He was loitering a few hundred feet away, in the periphery of my vision. First I though it was the dirt on my shades, but the dot remained geostationary. I tried to clean my Ray Bans in the dream, but he was still there. When I looked away, I could see the dot getting closer. When he noticed me noticing him, he froze to the edge of the periphery again.

I realized his modus operandi, and decided to create a diversion.

I looked for a different dream character to engage with, and approached one of the braless girls. I asked her where she was from, while keeping the invader subjugated to an out-of-focus dot.

He took the bait. The dot grew larger.

For the next two nights he kept getting closer, just a little bit at a time. The dreams varied, but he was always there.

On the third night he was close enough for me to make out the shape. It was the caped man from the sherry bottle, Don Fino Sandeman!

sandeman

As a backgrounder, my mother used to drink Sandeman. I remember the bottle from her liquor cabinet. The character on the sticker had already bothered me as a kid. Why was she drinking Zorro?

Somehow I felt that Sandeman was not about to reveal his face to me. This coincidence with a sherry bottle label didn’t instill my confidence in him. Maybe he didn’t have a face. Maybe he was just a mask for something else, a higher agenda.

Phase 3: Breaking Down Their Agenda

Diary entry, 9AM, July 5th, 2013. Day 5 of SCRAM diet. Doing 20 capsules now. Sandeman was only 10 feet away from me last night. I tried to talk to him. Asked him what he wanted.  Then blacked out for 20 minutes.

How do you black out in a dream? A sleep expert would say I had probably entered Level three or four sleep state, where dreams are forgotten. But this was different. The blackouts were real, and I had a theory.

Sandeman now had the power to hijack me –  20 minutes at a time.

That’s why he was getting closer: to be able to finally jump me. But if this was true, what was he going to do with me? If I had the ability to hijack someone’s body and brain for 20 minutes at a time, what would I do? I wasn’t pleased by the ideas I entertained.

The next three days I experienced several blackouts, some of them in my waking state, some of them up to an hour. By now I was like a zombie. My legs were spaghetti al dente. Who knows what kind of shit Sandeman had pulled during these blackouts. I was lucky I was in no shape to do bank heists. But I was also no closer to finding the truth about my invader’s true identity.

Gradually, however, the clues started dropping in during my waking state.

The first was an article in The Atlantic, How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy. (It was about Jaroslav Flegr, a Czech evolutionary biologist, who had spent decades chasing an elusive parasite by the name of Toxoplasma Gondii. His findings shocked the scientific community.

The toxo parasite has the ability to behaviorally modify humans and animals. It propagates via cat feces to rats, humans, dogs, birds – you name it. It rewires its victims for a specific purpose. Flegr was able to map some of the toxo methodology.

For example, toxo tweak rats’ sense of smell so that they actually enjoy the smell of cat urine, thereby making them easier prey for cats. The behavioral modifications in human brains were an even bigger concern. Toxo programs women to be more outgoing, and men to be more introverted. It manipulates their sexual attraction and timing. It nibbles away at their cerebral cortex, showing up as reduced grey matter in MRI scans. It disconnects their fear circuits, causing infected subjects to have a 200% higher fatality rate from driving accidents, because of reckless driving.

Toxo was also linked to obsessive-compulsive disorders, ADHD, mood disorders, and up to 75% of schizophrenia cases.

Interestingly, I ran into a  cat lady  soon after reading the article on Flegr.

She was bouncing a ball as I walked by; an invisible ball. She smiled at me, and all I could think of was… toxo.

I pondered about these new realizations while sitting on my toilet seat.

If one parasite was able to screw with our brains like toxo did, what about all the thousands of other parasites that we knew very little about? Sure, we had all their mug shots classified, named and tabulated. From the ectoparasites that live on the surface to the endoparasites that live underneath your skin; from the intracellulars who swim inside your cells to the social parasites that attack entire communities. Tapeworms, flukes, fleas to microparasitic viruses and bacteria that mutate and evolve from host to host.

On close-up, none of them were photo friendly. And very few had a truly benevolent interest in us. Quite the opposite, many of them seemed to have read Klausewitz’s On War.

There are an estimated one billion people infected with some sort of parasite. Some estimates put the infiltration rate at 90%, even in U.S. That’s the parasites we know about. Parasitic diseases like malaria kill over one million people each year. In certain rural areas of low-income countries, up to 50% of children have parasitic infections, resulting in retardation to poor school grades.

Humanity is still just scratching the surface in terms of understanding these alien species. What do parasites really want with us? Do they have a global agenda?

I thought of Sandeman. How he was figuring me out with a patient dance. How he kept getting closer, until he was close enough to hijack me.

I remembered Lisa’s words: “…It will learn, adapt, mutate, and attack your loopholes.”

That’s when it all started coming together.

Phase 4:  Accepting The Solution

Diary entry, 9AM, July 19th, 2013. Day 19 of SCRAM diet. Eased down to 10 capsules per day. Test results from two labs came through. Four parasites identified.!

In my paranoia I had devoured article after article on parasites Miraculously, the symptoms were finally regressing. I was eating properly, digesting normally. Even Sandeman had vanished. I was wondering if I should thank SCRAM. But the lab results seemed to contradict how I felt. I had been diagnosed with four (4) different parasites. One of them was fatal if it entered my bloodstream. Another was a recurring parasite that typically nested in the colon for years, causing cyclical diarrhea. One was unidentified. And one was of a fairly harmless, itchy variety, supposedly.

So how did I get them under control? Beating the parasite required more than just a combination of Chinese herbs.

Before Sandeman disappeared, I had his modus operandi nailed down to a step dance pattern. I knew how to play him . I would let him come closer, and just before he was within hijacking distance, I turned around and faced him. He would scram. But always come back eventually.

Then I stepped up the game. I invited him over intentionally, waving at him to join me as I caroused through an unpredictable, joy-filled dreamscape. It’s my world, I told him. I control it. “You’re just a guest,” I screamed at him

Something clicked into place after that. He started showing up less often. Hijackings were now down to zero.

I realized that fighting a parasite infection required waging battle both in the body and the mind.

Sandeman is a teacher. He’s taught me to deconstruct the psychology of my invader. Schweitzer, in turn, had been sent to me as a messenger, to warn me about the reality of the invaders. Maybe the homeless man who appeared as Schweitzer was once like me. He knew about the attack, and he knew the cause of his downfall.

This is what I believe Schweitzer understood. That the alien invasion is not an event in the future. It’s an event of the past. The invasion took place as soon as we had the capacity to become hosts, some four billion years ago. Yes, the little vampires were sucking on us by the time we were bi-cellular. First, they slowed us down just a little bit, enough for our ancestors, the Australopithecine, to stop running after deer. Thus the spear was invented, from the mind of a parasite, to simplify our life.

Over the course of our evolution, they would invent more things, they would control our mentality bit by bit, our life patterns, our decisions, our organs, our brains, our blood and our cells, until they became one with us and we became one with them.

Accepting the solution is to accept them. Together, we’ve formed a multi-species organism, a grand parasite that was determined to bring down an even larger host.

Mother Earth.

Postscript

The Italian lady from Cedars Sinai called and urged me to go for another 10-day antibiotic treatment. Sure, I thought. Let’s open another door for them.