By Dan Hoeweler

It is December of 1999, soon before my death, and I am sitting with my roommates smoking an odd substance. My roommate Phil sits next to me telling me to inhale deeper. We have fallen for the same girl, and she sits across from us watching as I hold the smoke inside of my lungs. I exhale and giggle uncontrollably at the two of them.

I went to sleep not knowing that I had already signed my own death. A chemical cocktail of stress and substance X were simply too much, and began eating away at my brain.

That night stews were being brewed that would change my life forever. I was poisoned, and my fate was worse than death. My brain died that night, and became possessed by this other.

Most call it schizophrenia. I call it my possession by Reverend Paranoia.

Reverend Paranoia, for me, is an evil preacher who stands upon a pedestal in a church preaching lies to different parts of my brain, telling them the horrors of the world where “decent people” live. The different parts usually listen and marvel at the preacher’s incredible speech. My optic nerve can see what he preaches at times. My audio nerve can likewise become fully convinced of his sermon. Reverend Paranoia is so convincing that I can become his undying servant, and no naysayer could convince me otherwise.

That night while I slept Reverend Paranoia whispered softly into my ear.

Why live in a world so cruel? Why not create your own world? Here anything is possible. Here you will be king.

He tempted me, and I obeyed. Trance like I followed. I would soon be running through the streets of Boston, in the middle of winter from imaginary gang members that were following me, while tears streamed down my eyes over my own death. I would soon be hearing voices from dark alleyways that had never been heard from before. It is soon my funeral. Most will experience their death in the end. I am special. I will experience mine before the end.

My psychosis began with a question the following day.

What happened last night?

I knew I had been smoking something, but there seemed more. Being confused as to the answer, there lie in front of me an infinite number of possibilities. Many things could have happened that night, yet to the rational mind there are bounds as to what could have transpired. Somehow I broke those bounds making anything possible.

Strange ideas started flashing inside of my head. At nights I would stare at the ceiling with these bizarre thoughts racing through my head, unable to sleep. Soon five sleepless nights passed. I dropped two sleeping pills and lied on my brother’s bed, in a futile attempt to rest. Something seemed amiss and horribly wrong. I couldn’t sleep.

Sometime within those five sleepless nights a portal opened and the Reverend was on the other side tempting me to step through. Something must have seemed better in this other universe, where I was God over all things. The universe where I could create many things yet could not control what they were. At some point I took that final step.

I began to play with the idea my former friend was monitoring my every move. It seemed an epiphany of reality that he did so through his mafioso thugs. I saw visions of them peering at me from rooftops and driving their vehicles on my street. I was scared to do anything, and petrified at the reality of being spied on and chased after. Everything I saw or did became a part of this storyline, which began with the unanswerable question that I had asked some weeks before.

What happened last night?

I finally found the answer. Everything happened last night.

The world I had created from nothing was dangerous. I needed allies to help me in order to survive. It wasn’t safe for me now, and I knew this. Worried about my safety I decided to tell the cops about my roommates plan to murder me. Walking through the streets of Boston to the police station I heard voices coming out of the alleyways that seemed so eerie and perfect only the devil could have created them.

I’m going to get you.
I looked down a dark alleyway.
Come here
Said the deep voice.

I walked into the Cambridge police station and preached my sermon, about how things had transpired; how the mafia was going to kill me, and my roommate had hired them to do so. I wanted protection from these villains who were trying to destroy my life. The two officers stood shaking their heads at me. They said they didn’t have time for me and that I should go back to Allston where I came from. I was shocked, and couldn’t understand how two officers could not investigate these crimes against me. Perplexed I ran back to my brother’s apartment.

My father soon called the apartment wondering what was going on with me. He had heard from my brother that I had gone mad. On the phone I spoke with him for some time telling him my predicament with the mafia, desperately trying to get him to believe me. On the phone I asked my father if I was going insane. He told me I probably was. Scared I hung up the phone. An argument then broke out between my brother and his roommate over me staying at his apartment. Apparently he won as I slept that night to the sounds of his crying, while I lie in the next room listening to imaginary conversations.

The next day I decided to visit a psychologist so that he could help ease my pain. I walked into the doctor’s office in the middle of the winter with nothing more than my pajamas on asking to speak to him so he could give me some valium; I just couldn’t take the anxiety of having people following me and spying on me all the time. Into his room I went realizing that this man in front of me was a CIA agent posing as a doctor. He spoke with me and afterward handed me some poison and tried to convince me to take it.

Walking back home through the snow in my pajamas I saw agents taking pictures of me in their cars passing by while the cold winter wind blew against me. Still I felt nothing. When I arrived at home my unbelieving brother tried to change my undying belief in this world of endless possibilities. I sat there in bewilderment at his false sermon. He then told me to take the poison the CIA agent had given me.

This world was mine, yet simultaneously there was a parallel world to this world, the world in which most live in. It was occurring at the same time on a different plane and somehow these two worlds collided, allowing these two very different places to view each other. Both were baffled, one cursing at the other, wishing each other dead. On the plane that most live in I was dead and replaced by this other. I was a demon, a curse on decency and normalcy, a travesty to all that is moral. That is what many thought, even those who were once very close to me. My existence was out of place in a world of logic, reason, boundaries and scientific reality. This reality did everything to discredit my existence, to deny my being and humanity. My existence is an existential dilemma to this other world; my experience was that beyond the human condition. People are paranoid about what they don’t understand. I was paranoid about the real world, the one I didn’t understand.

A world of spies, plots, mafia agents and endless persecution surrounded me. Everywhere I went I was in a story, where I was the protagonist fighting an army of antagonists.

The place I lived at seemed like a haunted house where imaginary crimes were taking place. I was always on the lookout for clues of how my roommate Phil was trying to kill me. To counter his plans I had taken countermeasures. I went to the hardware store and purchased two deadlocks for my upstairs apartment door, so that Phil could not enter and kill me while I was sleeping. I had on my coffee table, next to my bedside a knife that I obtained from the kitchen in case an intruder would find a way to bypass the locks I had put in place.

I thought of ways I could trick the cameras and agents that were spying on me everywhere I went. I changed my clothes many times a day so they wouldn’t recognize me when I left the apartment to go to school. A hat with a visor low to the brow was the best way to avoid cameras that were overlooking me from the building tops, I had decided.

Walking home from school was daunting and nerve wracking for me. I believed the majority of spying on me was occurring outdoors and that it was difficult for the mafia to infiltrate inside of buildings. Everyday I walked a different path to and from school weaving inside of buildings, ducking into alleyways to keep the mafia from spying on me and evading any would be followers. Sometimes I would take a longer route thinking it would be easier to shake my adversaries.

Entering the door in my room I felt that I had reached my “safe zone”, since the mafia was unable to infiltrate my room which was littered with locks over doors and windows. I had also carefully placed tape on the inside of my doors, signaling if someone had surreptitiously slipped into my room while I was away. For this reason I knew that no agents had infiltrated my room as of yet.

When I was home I only need worry about my roommate, and former friend, who I wrongly believed had his sights set on my death. Convinced he was a psychopath, I spied on him at times, looking through his stuff to see if I could find his plans on how he would destroy me. I was always able to find some bit of “evidence” that convinced me of his guilt. There was the note on how he had bronchitis and was unable to attend class that week. Then there was the time his parents sent him an “I love you” letter, telling them how proud they were of him. These items I saw as clues in a detective mystery that I had created within my mind.

I would collect these bits of data, and try to piece them together in a coherent manner that was logical for me at the time, and present them to my psychiatrist as evidence of the crimes my roommate had committed. He always remained so unconvinced of the evidence I brought to him, and so impatient in hearing my case against Phil.

The doctor kept asking me questions about my feelings and other nonsense that didn’t make sense to me at the time. How would you feel if the CIA and Mafia were following you all the time? All I wanted from the doctor was some sign of empathy and understanding of how frightening it is to have people following you all the time. I received none.

He kept telling me to take the poison he prescribed for me, saying it would relieve me of my confusion. At times I would take the poison, and at other times I wouldn’t since I knew he was wrong. I knew I was of sound mind, and thinking clearly. The one prescription I would take was the anti anxiety medication, since I was under intense pressure having people constantly follow me around.

There was no evading these thoughts I was having, as I became obsessed with them. I would sit up in my room all day thinking only of my immanent death, and how it would come to pass. At nights I would sit huddled in a corner, knife close by, staring at the lock on my door. I was waiting for something to happen, for my door to be barged through. It never came to be, there was only silence. Somehow I found this very disappointing as I was waiting for the final showdown between good and evil, and I would be the hero.

I was considered dangerous so few wanted to help me. This barrier between these two worlds called morality and law was insurmountable and for this reason I was left to fend with my own irrational devices. The abandonment issue was extreme, as few had the time, money or understanding for me, so like a 21st century leper nearly all my friends and family drifted away from me in fright. They told me I was trouble, and their once impenetrable love vanished nearly instantly. I began feeling hatred for the world, as I became a pariah and lacked friends. While most of the students at my college were busy drinking, socializing and studying my life revolved around my hellish imagination.

Eventually I ended up moving in with my brother, away from the tension and turbulence of my current living situation. It helped relieve some of the stress I was experiencing. Mostly I would sit in my room during this period chain smoking and playing with strange ideas and theories in my head, breaking bounds and boundaries that had been set out before me.

It was difficult to study as my mind kept drifting away from my textbooks into the fantasy world I had created. I began asking strange questions.

Perhaps Phil would find me here? Perhaps he knew what I was doing at this moment?

Statistically this was nearly impossible, but that one in billion chance seemed so real to me. A mathematical fallacy was becoming a reality, just not in a real sense. I was now working in the surreal and unknown, a world so unlike this one, and yet grounded in its hell.

Though I lived with my brother, my mind was still with the haunted house I had lived in. I would walk by it after school sometimes, transfixed upon it’s evil energies that seemed to emit from it’s being.

I thought I would hear screaming outside from the vile acts that were committed by my former friend. I saw pictures of secret rooms filled with bodies, torture and mayhem. I just needed to prove it, to show the world the truth of the situation, and yet I couldn’t because I no longer lived with him. I could no longer gather the evidence that I needed to present to the proper authorities of these horrible criminal acts.

On and off I would go the Psychiatrist, not telling him of my delusions and beliefs that penetrated inside my psyche, knowing he would no longer understand or see my reality. It seemed like our sessions were futile and boring to me. I did think he was a good human being and not on the wrong side. One day I thought I would convince him, and he would believe me. We would be partners in fighting crime after this. A phone call would be made to the cops by him. He would tell them the truth and I would get my revenge.

The sickness had not completely taken my mind, so it was still possible for the doctor to attempt and reason with me on some level. These grains of sanity were all my doctor had to work with on a psychological level.

Despite these attempts at rationality my mind was nevertheless drawn towards my fantasy realm. It’s lure was intense. I was obsessive about my delusions, they seemed more important to me than anything in my life at the time. It was an escape in some sense from my real problems. They didn’t seem to matter any more.

Later in the summer of 2001 my life was about to take another turn. After my initial episode I took up the nasty habit of excessive alcohol and drugs, to help ease some of the depression I had been feeling.

During this summer I had little money, and didn’t have my own apartment to stay in so I was left to fend for myself. Although I could have stayed with my brother during this period I opted instead to stay with my friend due to the easy access to booze and drugs at his place. The disadvantage was that I could only sleep outside on my friend’s porch where I had little to do there other than consuming alcohol and smoking marijuana. I often went hungry during this period, as I had little money for food and other necessities. I realized double cheeseburgers at McDonald’s were the cheapest meal in Boston, so I ate them almost daily. I smelled rather awful most of the time, since I rarely showered or changed my clothes. It didn’t seem important to me at the time.

Most disturbing of all was the lack of sanitation on the porch I was sleeping on. My friend and I would grill food there and leave it out for the rats to eat. I would hear the vermin underneath the couch before I fell asleep. There were a lot of them, and they came every night.

I felt like I was on exhibit at times living on that porch. People would walk by on that busy street in Allston and wonder what was wrong with me. Perhaps they were asking themselves why someone would choose to live on a porch with rats. Whatever they were thinking, I’m sure they were happy to not be me.

The excess of booze, drugs, stress and bad diet wore me down, creating a second episode that occurred towards the end of the summer. I soon landed in my psychiatrist’s office after the summer ended and spoke with him, in an excitable way. My emotions felt intense on edge and unbalanced like a canoe ready to tip over at any moment. The doctor eventually prescribed me Risperdal and Depakote, which helped ease the severity of the emotional and psychotic symptoms, yet left me as crippled as before. The medication had severe side effects that left me a manageable zombie. Unable to take care of myself I eventually moved back to Cincinnati and a new disturbing chapter in my life.

I was disabled during this period of my life from the intense side effects of the medication, and therefore left to the hands of others. During a typical day I would sleep 10 hours, then go to my computer and engulf myself in some sort of online fantasy world. I realized quickly that people thought I was a drug addict since I noticeably seemed drugged from my psychiatric prescription medications.

The psychiatrist I was seeing at the time seemed a big follower of Freudian Psychology as he often used our appointments to discuss the id and the superego. Our sessions were quick as I would see him 5-10 minutes and he never really seemed to have anything to say of importance. He usually just quietly passed a script to me with the usual medications that were poisoning me at the time, brushing aside my complaints of the side effects.

I started to realize something was amiss about my treatment as I felt I wasn’t getting any better. Eventually after many years of suffering I acquired a new psychiatrist. On my first visit I told him of my difficulties with the medication I had been taking. He listened carefully and we began experimenting with different types of these and their effects.

There was a lot of shuffling around with the medication over the next year, and eventually an unexpected breakthrough was made. Some seven years after my initial episode, a foreign substance in the form of a pill would enter my brain that would strike a crushing blow to the demons which lie deep within my psyche.

I was introduced to Aripiprazole by my doctor when I started becoming manic and delusional towards the end of 2006. It was one of the few times in my life I ever remember being manic.

Mania, for me, seemed to be a natural speed or high beyond what ordinary people feel. Your thoughts start to race, your problems artificially vanish, and everything is a big rush. Eventually my thinking became so fast that I became confused and once again was becoming paranoid.

I eventually wound up in my psychiatrists office where he told me that he had received a letter from my parents concerning my current mental state. He then wrote me a script for a new medication to help calm my nerves which I later took to the pharmacy to fill.

Arriving home I popped one of the little pills in my mouth expecting nothing to happen. I fell asleep and then awoke feeling an unusual sense of calm and clarity, that I hadn’t felt in years. Initially I thought it was just a temporary stopping point until the demon would arise again. I took a much needed shower and went for a car ride, confused as to how well I was feeling at the time.

Some years before that day, on Christmas Eve, I wished for a return to sanity. Every Christmas, underneath the tree I received many gifts, yet the gift I wanted most eluded me. How strange it was that sometime soon after Christmas one cold January morning I was to receive the gift that I had wished for most.

This unusual moment of clarity, a seed of sanity and well being extended to the next day and then the next week. The air smelled fresher, the sun shined brighter and colors seemed more vibrant than they ever had in years. Though not cured, my feeling of normalcy felt almost miraculous.

Once upon a time I was told that my DNA would never allow me to lead a normal life, and that because of this I would be destined for failure. I firmly believed this statement and thought that my life would always be limited, and that I would never be able to work, have friends or live a normal life. If I only understood how false this statement was, as I currently have received all of these.

Years later I began to write horror stories that were filled with villainous C.I.A agents, malicious aliens and nefarious talking rats from the days of yore. I did so because I wanted others to know what it is like to experience the psychotic realm. I bring them now to you throughout the remainder of this book. They are tales of madness that few experience and even fewer live to tell. Tales that haunted my mind for years and continue to haunt the minds of millions.