Let us begin with this preface.
The art and age of rocketry began right here in California on Halloween 88 years ago when an explosives whiz kid named Jack Parsons created a mix of gaseous oxygen and methyl alcohol and launched a rocket from Arroyo Seco near Pasadena.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory was born on that very site.
A MARRIAGE OF SCIENCE AND THE OCCULT
“Dr. Boom-Boom” is the codename I bestowed upon a source cultivated decades ago for a series of stories on Area 51 in Nevada and U.S. Air Force experiments of the 1950s. He had worked there for a while at a senior level and knew all its secrets, even shared a few with me, but only — I’m certain — when it suited his own secretive agenda.
Nuclear physics, rocket propulsion, Dr. Boom-Boom knew it all — and anyone worth their salt within the national security establishment.
Short and stocky with craggy features, firm jaw and crew-cut gray hair, the good doctor seemed genuinely happy to see me recently at Coast & Olive in Montecito. He sipped liquid crystal from a martini glass graced by olives stuffed with bleu cheese.
Boom-Boom had something he wished to impart upon me, for readers of this column, he said, to get the truth out.
“It’s a long story,” he whispered. “Maybe the biggest of your life, if you’d ever get it published, which is highly unlikely if not outright impossible.”
“My newspaper is bold,” I told him.
“This is about a marriage of the scientific world and the occult. An unholy marriage borne out of rocket science. It goes back to when Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena was first founded, to a large extent by a rocket fuel whiz kid named Jack Parsons.” He paused. “Jack was before my time, so I never met him. He was one of the innovators among the earliest pioneers of rocketeering. But he had a dark side. A very dark side.
“Good-looking guy, Parsons,” Boom-Boom continued. “Grew up in a Pasadena mansion with a silver spoon up his backside. An only child. Very spoiled by his mother and grandparents, but missing a father figure in his life because his mother divorced and banished his dad after catching him with a prostitute and from that moment cut off all contact between father and son.
“From an early age, Parsons was drawn to incendiary devices and explosives. Firecrackers, cherry bombs, whatever he could get his hands on — or concoct himself with chemicals. He used to go down with other boys to Arroyo Seco to detonate his inventions. They had the canyon to themselves because no one ever goes there. Parsons eventually found a father figure in Aleister Crowley. Do you know who that was?”
I nodded. “An occult figure from England.”
ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS
“More than that: THE occult figure. Known as The Beast. Or simply, 666. Crowley wanted to create his own religion, based on sex and magic. He called it Ordo Templi Orientis — or OTO for short.”
Dr. Boom-Boom crossed himself before continuing.
“Jack Parsons presided over the only branch of OTO ever created in the U.S.A. They called it Agape Lodge. Its first home was in Hollywood, which at that time was going through an occult craze, all the movie people of that period dabbling with unknown powers for the thrill of it. With Crowley’s mentoring, Parsons took over OTO and moved it into a Pasadena mansion he bought just for that purpose and also as his own residence — and allowed other OTO members to live there too. It became a kind of bohemian rooming house where sex-and-magic lovers could perform ritual ceremonies in the garden late at night.
“Eventually, their antics aroused complaints from neighbors. And because of Parsons’ sensitive job at JPL, the FBI got wind of the complaints and investigated the shenanigans. It resulted in Parsons getting fired from the lab. Pretty soon Parsons was out of money and embittered. He went broke because he got conned out of his life savings.
“Jack Parsons died in an explosion in 1952 when he was only 37 years old. It wasn’t foul-play, as some suspected. He mishandled a mixture of bomb-making chemicals and blew himself up. Some say Jack killed himself, others believe he was assassinated. Truth is, he was in a hurry to finish up a batch of incendiaries for a movie company that needed a rush job before he was due to depart to Mexico to start an explosives factory for the Mexican government. He was just plain careless and dropped something he ought not have let go of and didn’t catch it in time, blew off his arm and half his face, and he died a short time later.
“By the way, everything I just told you is public knowledge and easy to find out by surfing the internet. But you need to know my version of it because you need to understand context to put it all into perspective for what I’m going to tell you next.”
He paused to catch his breath.
“People who knew about the OTO and Jack Parsons thought the Order died along with him.
“It didn’t. With Parsons suddenly dead and the FBI snooping around, thinking maybe he’d been spying for Israel, selling the Israelis rocket secrets in retaliation for getting fired, OTO went deeper underground.
“VERY deeply underground. And the deeper it got, the darker it became.” Boom-Boom gulped his libation. “What I’m about to tell you is USG’s biggest secret. It is so secret that even publicly-elected office-holders aren’t allowed to know — not congressmen, not governors, not even the president of the United States.”
Boom- Boom chuckled. “They try — oh, they all try — newly elected presidents especially. But the military-scientific-security establishment is very good about deflecting the prying eyes of Capitol Hill and the White House. Scientific mandarins at the most senior level are not dumb bureaucrats. They’re some of the smartest people in the country, with IQs of 160 and higher.
“You heard about a UFO crash mid last century?”
Dr. Boom-Boom chuckled, nodding. “Yeah, that’s what everybody thinks. That’s what everyone is supposed to think. Summer of ’47. Flying saucer crashes — and gets resurrected into modern lore. Roswell even has a UFO festival every year. Only it never happened. It really was just a weather balloon that crashed in the New Mexico desert.”
“Yet five years later, on Aug. 14, 1952, just two months after Jack Parsons died, an alien craft DID crash-land on our planet.” He paused again to catch his breath. “Not in New Mexico. It happened in northeast Nevada, near a town called Ely.”
“Three so-called ‘aliens’ were on board. Two were already dead, from the impact. The third survived and remained in a coma for weeks. There was a lot of confusion in the military about what to do with what they found, especially in light of all the fuss and furor created by Roswell. Bottom line, no one wanted responsibility for it, for dealing with it.”
“Simple,” Dr. Boom-Boom said. “It was a career killer.”
“Why a career killer?”
“Sometimes in high position, it is better not to know stuff.”
“Not to know. But why?”
“Because some stuff — especially kooky stuff — can taint you, tarnish your reputation and shorten your career. Maybe even your life. Some people, if you ever talk about it, will think you’ve flipped your lid, while those in the know will be watching to see if you’re talking about it to anyone who isn’t cleared to know.”
Dr. Boom-Boom composed himself and continued.
“So, here’s what happened: After finding the crash site, the local cops didn’t know what to do, it was just too weird for them and they were scared. So what do they do? They call the Nevada Air National Guard a few hours away down Route 50 in a town called Fallon. The National Guard didn’t know what to do either and were probably just as frightened. So they packed everything onto a C-54 cargo plane and flew it to the Fort Worth Army Air Field in Texas.
“The commander in Fort Worth took one look and wanted nothing to do with it. He ordered the whole shebang out of there, to Wright Field, an Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio.”
By now, I was riveted to his every word.
“Well, guess what?” said Boom-Boom. “The U.S. Air Force didn’t want to know either. So they locked everything up in a hangar — they called it the Blue Room — and they dispatched the still-living alien to Fort Detrick in Maryland.” He pauses. “Why Fort Detrick, you may ask?”
“Go for it.”
“Fort Detrick is where they experiment with infectious diseases. Which means it has the finest facilities for quarantining anything they don’t understand. Which means they are equipped to deal with any nasty bugs or viruses the alien may have brought with it, wherever it came from, germs or biological elements that could potentially be detrimental to human life and maybe cause a pandemic that would wipe out the human race. Where was I?
“Oh, OK, I remember. The Atomic Energy Commission hears about it — not the alien in Fort Detrick, which they didn’t know existed — but about all the craft debris in the Blue Room. And they decide this stuff might be helpful for research and development. So they arrange to move it secretly from Dayton to an entity then called Nevada Test Site. Remember that?”
I vaguely do.
AREA 51, EG&G AND ‘MISTER B’
“Nevada Test Site was the original name of what would eventually become Area 51. We insiders knew it as The Ranch. CIA was alerted. And its director, Walter Bedell Smith, who was obsessed with beating the Russians in the Cold War nuclear arms race, jumped on it. But he was out of the CIA a few months later, and Allen Dulles, the new director, hated technology. The CIA didn’t want it anymore. So the Atomic Energy Commission gave everything to a private defense contractor called EG&G. Ever heard of them?”
I shook my head. “No.”
“We called EG&G the Black Government because that is what it was. EG&G wanted to study the craft and put whatever they discovered to their own technical use. That’s one side of what happened, the benign side, which allowed us to build better rockets and ways to propel them. The other side, mostly forgotten about as an aside to the technology bonanza, and not even known to the Atomic Energy Commission or EG&G, was the still-alive but comatose alien being held at Fort Detrick.” Boom-Boom paused. “This being eventually regained consciousness. Are you getting all this?”
I pointed to my voice-recording iPhone.
“OK. Good. The only link between the craft remnants at The Ranch and the alien in Fort Detrick was a very senior CIA officer who traveled back and forth between Washington and Nevada. We called him Mister B. Whenever Mister B learned something new about technology from interrogating the being, he’d fly out and brief the new data to scientists. That’s how Q Clearance got born. The Russians by then knew we had something special going on, but they didn’t know what. That’s why their spying increased ten-fold and the Cold War turned below freezing.
“The powers that be in Washington — the mandarins at the national security establishment — knew it was just a matter of time before Congress and the White House and, by extension, the Russians, through their spies, would get wind of what we had. So, after the alien died — he lasted only a few weeks after coming out of a coma — they burned everything and terminated the personnel involved — termination with extreme prejudice. They got rid of everything.
“Everything except for one copy of the interrogation transcript. That was brought to the Jet Propulsion Lab for safekeeping. It joined all the other documentation that came from research and analysis of the craft remnants at The Ranch. And it’s from there that it went missing.”
“What went missing?”
“The transcript of the interrogation of the alien being. It was stolen by someone who had worked at JPL with Jack Parsons, someone who had reached a senior level at JPL, and who was, secretly, one of OTO’s most devout disciples. That document, the interrogation transcript, became OTO’s Holy Grail.”
“Because of what it reveals.”
“What does it reveal?
Dr. Boom-Boom steadied himself. “The future.”
“Have you seen it?”
Boom-Boom nodded. “I was one of the very few people allowed to read the transcript before it went missing. Which made me one of the suspects after it disappeared. I was investigated — and exonerated.”
I remained quiet, waiting for Dr. Boom-Boom to fill the void, assuming he wouldn’t have gone this far if he hadn’t planned to tell me the whole story.
“When the alien being came out of a coma,” said Boom-Boom in a hoarse whisper, “he wouldn’t speak. They thought maybe he didn’t have vocal chords, but x-rays proved otherwise. He was physically capable of talking. X-rays also proved he wasn’t entirely human but a cyborg: part organic, part robotic, with a much higher intelligence than humans. A super intelligence.”
Dr. Boom-Boom sips his martini to moisten his throat. “Even though the alien clearly seemed to understand what was being said to him, he wouldn’t engage but only listened quietly. They tried to coax him to nod yes or no, but he wouldn’t do that either. Finally, out of exasperation, they shot the alien full of sodium pentothal, which was all the rage in those days as a truth serum. Didn’t work at first, so they pumped him with more.
“Finally, he started talking. In English! But the weirdest damn English anyone had ever heard. Of course, the first thing they wanted to know was where he was from.”
I was riveted and he knew it. “Where was he from?”
“Our planet. Earth.”
“I don’t understand.”
“The being did not come from some far-off galaxy. He was from here.”
I cocked my head, still trying to comprehend.
“He wasn’t from Earth in 1952, or Earth as we know it,” continued Dr. Boom-Boom. “Our time, that is. He was from the future. Specifically, he claimed, while medicated, to be from the year 2433. He said he was a ‘chrononaut.’”
“A time-traveler. As we later learned — everything he said is in the transcript — in the 23rd century our descendants, through artificial super intelligence, finally figured out how to negotiate wormholes and time warps. It is very technical and involves quantum physics, but to simplify for a layman, if you can travel faster than the speed of light, time runs backward, relating to Einstein’s theory of relativity.
“This future earthling was terrified of telling us anything about anything because of the cause and effect it might conceivably have on the future. But the sodium pentothal opened him up. Sometimes he spoke in a semi-conscious state. Other times he spoke in his dreams while asleep. They had someone next to him at all times, 24 hours a day. The bastards interrogating him were so eager to know more, they far exceeded the healthy dosage of sodium pentothal. As a result, the being went into a spasm and died from respiratory difficulties. With hindsight, we speculated that he probably wanted to die and held out for higher and higher doses knowing that death would ultimately result, thereby outfoxing his interrogators. Got all that?”
“The interrogation resulted in a 54-page transcript. What we thereafter dubbed “The Future History Book”, because of what’s in it.” Boom-Boom paused. “At first, no one believed the being. They thought he was deceiving the interrogators, providing disinformation to obscure his true origins. But then things the being had spoken about started to actually come true. The assassination of a U.S. president in 1963. The break-up of the Soviet Union.
“Then the transcript disappeared, hijacked by OTO. The information it contained is a kind of skeleton key to great riches. It foretells major events and, more important, scientific developments. It foretold the advent of digitalization and the internet, of artificial intelligence and artificial super intelligence and the nanotechnology that will change everything; that is, how artificial super intelligence will bond with humans and eventually come to dominate mankind, even enslave it to some extent. The alien-slash-cyborg-slash-chrononaut was itself a guinea pig in their time travel experiment.
“You see, anything part human by the year 2433 is considered lowly and fodder for experimentation, or as an energy source, as needed. OTO now has tens of billions of dollars at its disposal, and its initiates include some of the wealthiest, most powerful men and women in the world.
“Those in possession of the document determined that it needed to have spiritual meaning, call it a cross between organized religion and, say, the Freemasons, where everyone aspires to climb up a ladder and only at the very top — at the 33rd degree— are its most privileged members allowed access to the Holy Grail and its secrets.
“Through their own brand of spirituality, they gave it mystique and in so doing bestowed on the alien-cyborg an almost God-like status. As part of their rituals, to keep initiates in their grace and captive to the Order, they perform human sacrifices to their quote-unquote god, the being, whose name was Danyan. They videotaped the newest initiates committing the sacrifice, and once they possess this evidence of their complicity in first-degree murder, the initiate belongs to the Order. For life.”
“How do you know all this?” I asked.
Dr. Boom-Boom averted my gaze.
“I became one of them,” he said, “I had to. It was either join them or lose my job.” He trembled. “I lived for my work. After my retirement, I had nothing more to do with them, a fact that did not go unnoticed. Like most cults, they don’t like people leaving, or distancing themselves from the Order. And thereafter they perceive such persons as a threat.”
“So, where is the Future History Book now?” I ask.
“The FBI has been hard at work searching for it.”
I consider this. “You mean…?”
Dr. Boom-Boom shrugs. “We shall see…”
The above is an exercise in combining fact and fiction, excerpted from my upcoming novella, “Happenstance.”
If you found yourself believing it, well, now you know how fake news works.
Robert Eringer is a longtime Montecito author with vast experience in investigative journalism. He welcomes questions or comments at email@example.com.