The Indoctrination

We're concerned about the effort to capture youth through indoctrination into the homosexual lifestyle.

--Matthew D. Staver, Liberty Counsel, quoted in the New York Times

East of San Francisco the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. When I went into the hills and vales to survey for the new reservoir they told me the place was evil. They told me this in Orange County, a community where the health classes have always taught only abstinence, and so I thought it was just the age-old wisdom of my overprotective ancestors. I was no longer a young and rebellious man, but had maintained certain tendencies toward, I hesitate to say it now, liberalism, and I discounted the wisdom of the ages.

As I approached the hills, I felt gnawing at my vitals a dark terror that I had felt only once before, in early November 2004, when for a moment I had lost faith in our Supreme Commander, and thought that the forces of darkness would prevent him from retaining his throne in the capital. This terror had invigorated me then, and through it I triumphed against all that could have been lost, and tonight, the hills beckoning, I prayed to be reinvigorated again.

But close contact with the utterly bizarre is often more terrifying than inspiring, and it did not cheer me to think that, on this moonless night, I could be approaching some unspeakable horror rather than the simple reservoir my rational mind expected. As I reached the top of a hill and prepared my descent, I spied below me a queer pink light emanating from the darkness. I could not restrain myself, despite the terror that possessed me, from continuing on this path toward what could only be utter destruction.

What I found there between the hills I have no way to express. For a moment there swept over me a swamping wave of sickness and repulsion -- a freezing, petrifying sense of utter alienage and abnormality -- because from the moment the pink light engulfed me, I knew that I was in the possession of some damnable, utterly accursed focus of unknown and malign cosmic forces.

The feeling passed, though, and once I had made my way through the pink light, I discovered that I had, indeed, come to the reservoir, and that I was not the only person to stray from the safety of home that night. Around the glistening pool stood a crowd of men, and as I watched, they knelt down at the water and drank of it. Impelled by what force, I do not know, I joined them. As I bent to stretch my hands into the water, I was startled by the reflection undulating on the surface, for it was not the reflection I had seen in the mirror that morning when I performed my daily ablutions, but was, instead, the image of a younger self, a man whose face was filled with youthful radiance, whose life still waited for him to seize it and impregnate it with all the possibilities that age and time could offer.

I drank of the water, and then arose with a caution more impulsive than deliberate. I turned to look at the other men, and, wondrously, discovered my joy reflected in the joy of the creatures around me; I saw on their countenances the ageless energy I so cherished, and their eyes glowed with a gravitational power of attraction I had never encountered before. At last I felt able to act, and stretched myself vigorously to regain command of my muscles, and found I was in control of muscles I had before never allowed myself to dream existed.

At this point, as the crowd eased itself together in what seemed a replication of the unity of ancient things, a column of pink light flared suddenly amidst us and began to weave itself into fantastic suggestions of shape that I would not see again until I discovered, much later, an archive of periodicals in San Francisco owned by a doomed poet and librarian. Words are unable to convey the ecstatic fervor that pulsed through the men conjoined on the reservoir's moon-dusted shore.

At last the light went away and I discovered myself alone again. At length I crawled back through the hills and to my home, just as the sun began its mournful ascent. I hid alone in my bedroom for hours at a time, and refused to speak to my wife. The days that followed were a piece of delirium out of Wilde or Rimbaud or the paintings of Eakins, and when I finally burst from the house, it was to run through the stately, respectable streets like a wild animal, hungry, engorged with malevolence against all that was good.

Through the ministrations of generous men and women, I slowly recovered my senses over the course of that long and horrible year. Eventually, I came to be able to bear the sight and touch of my wife. We returned to our roles as upstanding members of our church, and I, finding myself unable even on my strongest days to think of civil engineering, trained to be a stockbroker with my father's firm.

Every day, though, I see in the faces of men around me the longing that led me to the reservoir that night, and every day I shudder at the thought that one of them could have been sent to further my indoctrination. I turn away from their stares, I do not return their kind words, and I petition people in power to recognize the grotesque threat among us.

It has come to nothing but indifference, and I fear that I am one of the last among the sane. Numbers went queer in the years after I visited the reservoir, and always they lacked the power to get away. Then the stronger-minded folk all left the county, and only the foreigners would buy their homes. No traveller has ever escaped a sense of strangeness in those deep vales, and artists shiver as they paint the hills whose mystery is as much of the spirit as of the eye. I remain, with only my memories of that fabulous, formless night to remind of what forces have possessed the world, and what dangers still consume us. I remember the last man I loved, and hate to think of him as the grey, twisted, brittle monstrosity which persists more and more in troubling my sleep.

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