Orphaned at birth in 1922, abandoned by society, and relegated to a state hospital for eugenic experimentation, Jack Hunter and his twin sister Lilly, were born into a world of torture, scrutiny, and burgeoning superhuman abilities. Cultivating their strange powers under the noses of the doctors, they must fight for their survival and sanity, befriending their fellow patients, outwitting their captors, and plotting their escape.
Once outside, however, they find a society every bit as insane as the madhouse they've escaped from and, drawing other lost souls to themselves with an uncanny magnetism, they form a secret cult of supernaturally enhanced teenagers. Determined to outmaneuver the demented adult world around them, and to prepare their minds and bodies for the apocalypse they feel is, every day, drawing closer, they form a tender alliance, inverting the religious and political morality being imposed upon them, and pushing the limits of human consciousness to the breaking point. As the civilization around them continues to spin dangerously out of control, they are forced to flee its authoritarian machinations, and to cultivate a hidden world of occult powers, nature worship, demonic possession, ancient sexual ceremonies, and witchcraft. During this time, Jack and Lilly also begin to uncover the mystery of their unknown parents, the mother they never knew, and their legendary father, Robert Henry Pearce, the infamous Homuncula, one of the most dangerous criminals of the century. As their own bizarre powers continue to blossom and multiply, and they make contact with beings from other dimensions, they find themselves swept up in catastrophic events so horrifying in nature, that they are forced to admit that the apocalypse they have seen in premonitions is at last coming to pass.
Back when I was a sullen and melancholy eleven year old, constantly envisioning my grade school in flames and daydreaming of my hometown as a corpse-strewn expanse of rubble, it honestly never occurred to me that I was seeing the future. I used to stare out the window of my classroom back in Tarrytown, New York, and suffer vivid hallucinations of the surrounding township utterly laid to waste, buildings toppled and crushed, plumes of black smoke rising into a purplish sky, bodies everywhere, and I would secretly wonder if I was insane to envision such things. Back then, I was so young and inexperienced that these visions would carry me far, far away from myself, leaving me sickened, confused, and frightened half to death. It is oddly mortifying to me now, as I look back on how incredibly naive I was, how naive we all were, inexcusably, oblivious to the enemy in our midst. Poor, forlorn, civilized humanity, never dreaming what lay in store for us. We were so mesmerized with ourselves and each other, with all the banalities, artificialities, and petty dramas of modern existence, that we failed to comprehend the many clues and indicators, the countless unsubtle foreshadowings happening all around us. We were so entranced by the civilization we had built that we could scarcely see beyond its borders, nor think outside its philosophy.
We were blindsided, woefully unprepared for the sudden siege of our long-entrenched enemies, the hidden exterminators of humankind who had secreted themselves in plain sight from the very beginning. Cleverly disguised as such commonplace earthly scenery as rocks, trees, shrubs, ponds, and clouds, those polymorphous horrors fit so perfectly into the surrounding landscape that they'd managed to conceal their presence from civilized humanity even through the long centuries of ruthless human progress and scientific discovery. These hidden ones were shape-changers, able to mimic, in color, shape and texture, any object they chose. In this respect, they had much in common with our chameleon or octopus, utilizing both mimesis (mimicry of other objects) and crypsis (changing color and texture to match backgrounds) to avoid detection by their increasingly distracted quarry. That is until that fateful day in August 1945, when they suddenly burst forth upon the landscape in unending droves and commenced the brutal liquidation of the human race.
In the years prior to the emergence of these horrors, there were numerous catastrophes which, looking back, seem a kind of ominous warning, a dark prelude to the catastrophe that was to follow. I recall that the newspapers were increasingly full of strange and fiendish crimes, gruesome violence, vigilantism, assassinations, roving mobs, lynchings, and other incidents of crowd madness which, when considered together, gave substance to the notion (unspoken at the time but deeply felt) of a heightened, widespread lunacy, growing day by day. I remember reading about bizarre episodes of "mass hysteria" and "group dementia," including the "Halifax Slasher" mass hysteria in England, and the well-known cases in Mattoon, Illinois, and Botetourt County, Virginia, where whole towns had succumbed to hallucinations, herd panic, and delusions of persecution. There were incidents of group folly reported in New York, Boston and elsewhere, strange riots in rural areas, arson, a deadly stampede in Boston which killed hundreds, as well as lynchings, mass murder and even baby-farming. There had been numerous serial murderers active during this period, including the infamous Joe Ball, the "Alligator Man" of Texas, Lyda Catherine Ambrose, Marie Alexandre Becker, the so-called "Angel Makers of Nagyrev," and the hideous, unsolved "Cleveland Torso Murders." Every day it seemed there was some new outrage to whip the population to new heights of anxiety, terror, and pandemonium.
World War II, which epitomized more than anything else, this orgy of violence and fanaticism, had just come to a grim conclusion and, between the revelations of the Nazi extermination camps, and the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a great shadow had fallen over humankind, a pall of dread which no amount of memorializing, analysis, or patriotic Victory Parades could dispel. It was as if an invisible horror were stalking the earth, possessing the minds of credulous men and women, and inspiring them, under various pretexts, to slaughter large numbers of their fellow beings. As that awful decade drew to a close, it became increasingly difficult to deny the evidence that vast segments of the human population had become hopelessly deranged, behaving as if they were under some sort of hypnosis or superstitious mania. The majority were so possessed by the myths of race superiority, class superiority, and nationalism, that they did willingly, enthusiastically, participate in campaigns of mass murder and genocide, often against people they had never even met and, in some cases, against their own neighbors.
These were the tell-tale symptoms of mass possession which had spread like wildfire through modern civilization. In that final decade, domesticated humanity began to behave more and more like an immense herd of spooked horses in a dangerously overcrowded corral. Intuitively aware of vast legions of hidden predators lurking nearby and yet, unable to confirm the danger directly, we turned, savagely, tragically, upon each other.
The end came quickly when it did, though I would never call it merciful. One day we were plodding through our mundane lives, the next we were the objects of a monstrous and pitiless worldwide assault. On August 13, 1945, at approximately 6:37 pm, Eastern Standard Time, the long-sequestered invaders sprang into hideous life, to chase, stalk, and feast upon the unsuspecting denizens of the collapsing civilized world. These horrors swept in ghastly waves across the landscape, led by the largest of the hideously animated tree, bush, and rock-shaped beings, devouring any and all humans they could find. The larger creatures were followed by successive waves of smaller, though equally terrible, monsters which came picking through the wreckage, feeding on whatever unlucky survivors they found hiding in the ruins. Thus, over a period of two hellish years, our world overrun and infested with these incredible nightmare beings, the human race was brought to the very brink of extinction.
But, of course, I've already misstated the facts. For, as subsequent reflection has made plain, this penultimate clearing of the earth was not a single event. It was not a day of judgment, looming on the horizon, which had finally arrived. The razing of the earth's surface, and the systematic extermination of whole populations of people, plants, and animals, had already been going on for nearly two thousand years, with none other than ourselves, civilized humanity, in the role of unthinking exterminators. By 1945 human development and activity had already decimated, reshaped, and made uninhabitable, vast tracts of the earth's surface, clearing and leveling billions of square miles of forest and countryside to make room for our cities, towns, motorways, and agricultural projects. Through such common practices as logging, cattle-raising, mining, the removal of mountains, the flooding of valleys, dam building, the intentional (and unintentional) extermination of wildlife, the industrial poisoning of lakes, rivers, oceans, even the very air itself, domesticated humanity had already begun our very own apocalypse, against ourselves, our bodies, and each other, as well as any organism that stood in the way of our "progress." Thus, the appalling events of August 13, 1945 were not the beginning of the end, but something more like the end of the beginning. There were infinitely worse terrors to come, terrors which, in retrospect, would make the advent of the hidden horrors seem almost mundane by comparison.
But I am getting ahead of myself. The story I wish to tell is not a story about the end of the world. For the ruthless clearing of the earth was, in fact, a mere prequel, the dawning of a whole new epoch in the history of this spinning sphere we once presumed to call the Earth. Truth be told, humanity had been straining for a long time against the walls of our many self-constructed prisons. Certain segments of our captive population had never stopped thirsting for a barely remembered freedom, yearning for the day that they could burst their bonds and ramble forth upon the earth unimpeded by the authoritarian structures which, for so long, had hampered, halted, and even reversed our development. It was these same beings, the survivors of the Great Transition, who would eventually transcend all known boundaries, opening the way for the rest of us.
Certainly there is something ludicrous in recalling the bad old days of human civilization. The world of men has been gone for so long that one is tempted to think of it as a strange nightmare best forgotten. As I occasionally look up from this writing, I am gazing out across the vast gray plain of water and fog that was once the western United States, that intricate web work of interconnected and overcrowded industrial cities, towns, and highway systems, now reduced to a thin band of rusting sediment on the floor of this nameless and newly forming ocean. How long ago was it? My mind has lost the habit of counting years. But in order to tell this story in its entirety, I must go back to the very beginning of my own life. I must go back to that absurdly tragic time just before the final devastation, when the earth still teemed with human activity and modern civilization marched proudly on, heedless of the self-inflicted doom that was, every day, engulfing it like a shadow. To tell you the story of how I survived the utter decimation of my race, I must first tell you the story of my upbringing in the demon-haunted cities of men, living among the possessed human beings who raised me. I will describe the oddly ironic existence I led in the years leading up to that final extermination, so that my readers may decide for themselves how and why this apocalypse came to pass, and whether or not I was predestined (or pre-selected) to play a role in the proceedings.