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Flotsam and Jetsam - Star Brothers .Strange But True Article

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The Dangers of Fanaticism

jacob shepard

Wednesday 12th of september 1923

Recently, a Strange But True investigative team traveled to the rural town of Ipswich. The goal was to perform a follow up investigation on a story printed by a local town newspaper on a certain Otis Frye. Otis claimed to be a man from Neptune and further claimed to be building a communicator to contact his “Star Brothers”. What interested Strange But True investigators was the odd currency that Mr. Frye was using to purchase parts for the said communicator. 


Otis Frye was born to Gilbert and Hannah Frye on the outskirts of Ipswich. Otis was born with physical deformities that would have earned him a place on PT Barnum’s stage. His eyes were enlarged, his body somewhat frail and a bulbous head reminiscent of the blowfish. These deformities were no doubt the result of the shallow gene pools and a Darwinist evolution of the people living on the marshes. His family home looked as if the surrounding marshes were slowly swallowing the structure. His father Gilbert left the family home when Otis was a child, presumably due to Otis’ physical deformities and Hannah’s afflictions of the mind. Mrs. Frye was found to have deficiencies of the mind that caused her to think the late President Woodrow Wilson or famed actor Rudolph Valentino were her missing husband Gilbert. Growing up in this environment, it appears Otis Frye did not learn good “mental hygiene” as Meyer defines. Otis seemingly turned to pulp science fiction and tinkering to escape his familial iniquities. Otis made the determination to inflate his wounded ego by turning his life into a narrative aligned with his much-loved science fiction. Otis began constructing a device that he claimed would call his father and his star brothers.


Arriving in Ipswich, the town was found to be one of the quaint towns that litter the new England coastline. The town itself sits in proximity to wide stretches of salt marshes and as one could imagine feels more isolated than other towns due to its geography. At the initial discussions with the townsfolk, there were disparaging views of Mr. Frye. Most residents viewed Otis as a mild amusement and nothing more. Some residents, though, displayed such agitation at mere mention of his name that the investigative team were threatened bodily harm. The source of this agitation seemed to stem from a group of men who claimed to be with the government and claimed to be interested in Mr. Frye.

The men in question appeared to be men of the marshes, bearing similar physical deformities to Otis. These men referred to almost everyone as “cousin” and raised the hairs on the back of the neck in the way having a conversation with someone destined for the sanitorium might. They seemed the opposite to Otis, though, in their desire to be left alone. These men were enrapt in Otis’ tale as it drew attention to Otis and one could infer them as well. Their devotion to the narrative is what truly turned the affair into something more than a poor man’s pitiful attempt at attention. These men believed the story with such conviction, such fanaticism, that they terrorized anyone who had spoken or interacted with Otis.

The night of the investigation found the Strange But True investigative team on the marshes inspecting Otis’ “interstellar communicator”. A unique contraption made of electronics, no doubt inspired by Otis’ tinkering magazines, and various other materials cobbled together. Its scale was impressive, and the lights and motions of the device were entrancing in the way trapeze artists are at their work. The investigative team stayed with Otis late into the night while he seemed to further engage in self-stimulation of his science fiction fantasy. In the early hours of the morning, on waking from having fallen asleep, the investigative team witnessed odd lights pulsing over the marshes. These pulsing lights were no doubt from similar tinkerers of the fanatics who had set up similar machines to Otis’ creation for this very stage play. Otis seemed overcome with his stimulation, convulsing on the ground in a sick gesture of ultimate satisfaction. Strange But True then witnessed the fanatics emerge from the marshes. The men threatened and physically assaulted the investigative team due to our proximity to Otis. The investigative team fought for their lives against the fanatics until, ultimately, the fanatics took Otis away. Dragging him into the marshes that he was born from.


To an outside observer, Otis’ tale is an obvious plea of a man trying to elevate himself above his physical and mental deformities. His desire to be something not of this world to rationally explain his poor lot in life was something to be pitied. Far worse is the belief that men can have in this sort of fancy. In their belief, these men of the marshes, these men in black, nearly killed innocent men and women. In their fanaticism they terrorized their community, the quant new England town of Ipswich. That is why we should all be wary of the dangers of fanaticism.

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This article was written by another of my investigators in response:


The Dangers of Cynicism, A Follow-Up Article

Melancholia Winters

Wednesday 15th of September 1923


Several days ago, my colleague, Jacob Shepard, published an article for Strange But True on Otis Frye and the small New England town of Ipswich, itself a follow-up to a report by Elsie Caldwell of the Ipswich Enquirer. Both of these articles are filled with the cynicism so often found in today’s society, a cynicism I intend to provide a counterpoint to.


I, for one, believe that there is more to this mystery than some science fiction enthusiasts. The queer, cobbled-together machine, while interesting in it’s own right, would be unable to create the lightshow around the swamp that was shown to us by Mr Frye, especially without extensive wiring systems unfathomable with the level of prosperity shown in the small town.The explanation put forward by my colleague of the other ‘enthusiasts’ having similar machines around the area is plausible but I, personally, saw no evidence of other devices, especially within eyesight of Mr Frye’s, as evidenced when we went back to the location it was placed the next day.


In addition to this, previous explanations give no reason for the rather exotic, extraterrestrial-looking currency with which Mr Frye was paying for his machinery. It is unlikely that Mr Frye’s family owned gold in that quantity or the equipment to fashion such realistic currency. Thus, it is my belief that he is indeed not lying about where he believes the currency is coming from, even if his beliefs about where it came from is incorrect.


There are many conclusions that can be taken from the information gathered by the Strange But True team. I have personally drawn up three results from the evidence I’ve been exposed to. First, everything Mr Frye has told us is true. Second, put forward by my colleague, Ulysses Patch, Mr Frye is mistaken and everything which he said was true but instead for an underwater city, Neptune alluding the Roman God of the Sea and not the planet (which is named after said God). Else, there is a technologically advanced group, such as a cult, deep within the marsh. These would be the Men in Black we witnessed on the night we oversaw Mr Frye’s machine.


This first idea leads to revelations that we are not alone, humanity is not the be all and end all of life as we know that. That, potentially, there is a smarter race out there, a race that can pass as human, a race that could well be among us already. This realisation comes as a double-edged sword, dependent on the intentions of this fellow race. Would they be friendly or would they be hostile once discovered, as they were in the swamp. This discovery would lead to either an uplifting of humanity into a golden age of technology or perhaps raze our entire society to the ground, wiping us off the face of the earth. 


The second idea shares many of the positives of the former idea with a lower chance of the eradication of humankind, seeing as how we’ve presumably shared the world without conflict for as long as we’ve existed together.


The last idea doesn’t instill as much youthful optimism as the prior. There are very few positives to having a group such as this inhabiting such an out-of-the-way town. This would allow such a cult to grow and foster under our very noses, eventually providing a greater threat than it could right now. 


Now, to explain why I think it is any of these ideas, I will provide evidence lacking in previous articles. Along with the Men in Black at the swamp, we saw unnatural looking creatures working alongside them. These creatures seemed to be allied with the Men and dragged Otis away by force. The aquatic nature of these creatures and the fact that the Men in Black dove into the swamp and swam away without coming up for air where we could see them lends itself to the second point more than either of the other two. However, the first point is also a possibility above the other as the planet the creatures come from could be made up of considerably more water than our planet, possibly even an entire planet made of water. 


Unfortunately, we were unable to recover images from our encounter, the camera being subject to much jostling around as we fought for our lives against the Men in Black and their creatures. However, I have asked my colleague to provide a sketch of the creature which should get released in a later issue of the newspaper. 


In conclusion, this is a yet-to-be-solved mystery with many possible outcomes. However, I will issue a warning to you, reader. There is nothing more dangerous in this situation than cynicism and ignorance. If this ends up being the prank of the decade, thought up by a group of science fiction fanatics, then consider me fooled and little wasted time or money. But, in the case that it is anything else, something more malicious, then we as a society will regret turning a blind eye to the potential problem.  

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