In much the same way that my life over the past few years had gradually grown increasingly more unstable and chaotic, the events that night gradually grew increasingly more surreal and bizarre.
Ultimately, my last night at the house in Oxnard was much more than just a psychotic delusion, it was a real-life nightmare, and this nightmare continued, off and on for the next ten years….
I was lying in bed awake that night when I heard Karen call my brother Joe in Boston. I knew it was Joe, because I heard his voice on the other end. This was before everyone had cell phones, so I assumed that Karen had called my brother from their room and put him on speakerphone. I didn’t think about it too much at the time, but I was pretty sure that I had never given either Karen or Pete, Joe’s phone number in Boston, although I’d had it memorized ever since I’d lived there. I don’t remember what she said to him, but I could hear Joe’s worried voice speaking to her in the darkness.
Their conversation didn’t last too long, and after Karen hung up, I called my dad and asked him if anyone strange had called them that evening. I thought Joe might have called my mom or dad to tell them that something was going on with me and my roommates at the house in Oxnard, but he said that no one had called them that night. I didn’t say anything to him about Karen having called Joe, and tried to go back to sleep.
A few minutes, or maybe a few hours later, I heard voices of people who I thought were in one of the houses across the street from Karen and Pete’s. They said they were the mafia. I heard the voice of Scott Thompson, my old supervisor from WFED. He said: “Remember the white binder?” in his evil, slimy, little voice. Karen and Pete may have had him on speakerphone too, just like they did Joe, but I never knew for sure. I certainly remembered the white binder that Scott was talking about. Before I left WFED, I had put together a resource binder for Scott to take with him to a conference on bioprospecting and intellectual property rights in South Africa. I’m not sure why Scott asked me about the white binder that night. I didn’t have it. I never actually saw Scott, but I definitely heard his voice.
I continued to grow increasingly more afraid as the night wore on. I looked up at the ceiling to see if there were little microphones in the corners of my room picking up my thoughts and broadcasting them to everyone around me. I thought that this was how I could hear the voices of people who weren’t in the same room or the same house as me. I was having conversations in my mind with different voices who were in the other room, or across the street.
I became very angry with Karen, Pete and everyone else who hated me. In my mind, I told the mafia voices to burn the house down. Karen and Pete started fighting and he chased her out of the house. He said everything that had happened that night was her fault. I couldn’t see anything because I was still lying on my back in my bed, but I thought Pete had a knife or possibly even a gun. Karen ran outside screaming at the top of her lungs in the middle of the night, shouting for someone to please let her in. I have no idea where everyone else went. I never saw Karen or anyone else I knew from Oxnard after that night, but I heard Karen’s voice harassing me in my head for the next ten years…
I stayed in my room lying on my back in bed for the rest of the night because I was too terrified to come out. I don’t know what happened to the other people who were in the house, but I’m pretty sure that some of them followed me to my parent’s house. In the morning, I packed my car with whatever would fit, and drove 300 miles north to Sunnyvale on Interstate 5. The mafia voices I heard told me to leave, so I left, yet they continued to haunt me for the next ten years…