by Jonas Kyratzes
Transcript of a statement to Phoenix Project investigators (US division) in 1978. The name of the witness has been lost, as has the documentation clarifying the context.
Look, I'm not a junkie, OK? I love rock music, but that's it, man. I don't do hard drugs. It was just acid! We just wanted to free our minds a little, take a load off. Scientists take LSD too, right? I mean, a scientist came up with that stuff in the first place!
OK, so, the way it happened, I was hanging out with my buddy Ralph. Ralph, man, what a mind. Should've been the greatest artist of the decade, maybe the whole century. Honest-to-God genius. Wrote his own music, lyrics, played every instrument, did his own album covers. Visionary stuff, man, real far out. He'd go, like, almost into a trance, and he'd spend hours writing, composing, painting, and you couldn't talk to him, you know, he was gone. And when he'd come back he'd work just as hard, putting it all together, making it into an album, or at least demos for an album. It was eerie, man. Real awesome, I mean awe-inspiring, real goosebumps, shivers running down your spine, you know? I mean, like, Floyd had nothing on him. This was prog rock before there was prog rock. It was space rock, man, like you were listening to aliens jamming in the galaxy, like... alien astronauts with guitars, you know, like what was that guy's name, Erich von Heineken or something. It was crazy, man.
He'd sing, too. Ralph had a great voice, sounded a bit like Plant, you know? Kinda soft, but could go lots of places? But he wouldn't sing in English. All the words were in this, you know, made-up language, like Tolkien? He'd come up with it when he was out there, when he was writing, and sometimes he said he couldn't remember what it meant, but it really fitted the music, even rhymed sometimes, like it had a real pattern and all.
But the record companies, man, they didn't get it! Said it was too psychedelic. How can it be too psychedelic? They all turned him down, and I know it broke his heart, man, cause he was really into it, it really mattered to him. He was like a prophet, you know? And they didn't believe him, like I guess they don't believe prophets in a lot of stories, but he was a real guy, you know, not a myth, and he had to keep working selling burgers, and it just wasn't right. In the end a local label picked him up, said they'd help him produce his first album, maybe do some marketing. They weren't bad people, just, you know, they smoked a lot, took a long time to get things done, didn't always do a good job.
Ralph, I guess he was frustrated, so he spent a lot of time in the studio. He wanted to get it right. Quit his job, quit everything except composing. I tried to keep him mellow, visited him a lot, introduced him to some ladies. But he didn't have time for free love, his mind was out there, and he got very intense. So one day I visit him, and he's full on into producing his album, and he's been painting the cover. It's this crazy landscape, like on another planet, with a black sky, and in the sky you can actually see the Earth as a small dot, and there are these ruins, like Aztec or Egyptian or something, with weird writing on them, maybe the song titles, I don't know, and Ralph's half covered in blue and purple paint, and I'm like, man, you need to relax. And he says yeah, let's drop some acid. And me, you know, acid helps me. I have good trips, usually, cause I'm a mellow guy. So I said sure.
I don't know how to describe what happened then. It was like... I guess they call it astral projection, but I didn't believe in that stuff, not really, you know. And it was like we left our bodies, me and Ralph. I could see him. And then we floated up, through the ceiling, and I saw the guy in the office above the studio dancing to Elvis in his underpants, although he always said he hated Elvis, and then we were up in the sky, going through the clouds, and then space, and then it was weird, because it looked like we were in Ralph's painting. It was scary, and I thought this is weird, I've never had a bad trip before, and nobody's ever come with me on a trip, because Ralph was there, you know?
The ruins were big, like, huge, like... like giants lived there. In the painting you couldn't tell they were that big, but once we were there, wow, we were like ants, man. I couldn't talk to Ralph, but I could tell he knew I was there, and we kinda floated around, exploring. It was creepy, but also kinda beautiful, full of weird colors and strange rocks and, I don't know, like dead plants or something, it was confusing. Ralph seemed to want to go to the center of the ruins, so I followed him. We went through this big arch that I recognized from another painting Ralph had done, so I figured we were in that painting now.
After a while, I don't know how long, we got to the center of the city, and there was... I don't know, like a... like a tomb. It was huge, and... the way it rose against the black sky, it... I don't know, I can't explain it. Ralph wanted to go closer, and somehow I knew he'd never been so close before, like he couldn't find this place before, but maybe because it was the both of us, I don't know. Anyway, we drifted closer, and suddenly... suddenly a voice started speaking in my head. It was terrible, it was so angry and so big, and it commanded me, but I couldn't understand what it wanted, it was the same language as the songs Ralph wrote, but it insisted, and it was so angry... it hated me so much, it wanted to own me, destroy me... and I couldn't get away, I tried but I kept moving towards the tomb, and I realized, I realized in that moment, that we hadn't gone there of our own volition, we'd been drawn, like following the piper in the woods, sucked into the darkness by this thing.
Ralph had thought it was beautiful, you know. He'd loved it. And I could see how the scales fell from his eyes, man, and it was awful. Everything he'd done, all the music, all the words, it was all a lie, it was all just darkness. And somehow, in that moment, I don't know how, man, but he found the strength to attack it. He threw himself between us. The thing screamed in my head, telling me what to do, but I couldn't understand, and I felt myself falling through the sky, screaming. And I guess I screamed so loud that the guy in the office, his name was Jerry, he heard me and came running. He found me curled up in a corner like a baby. Ralph had shredded the painting and smashed all the equipment, everything. He was lying on the floor, trembling like he was cold. By the time the ambulance arrived he was already dead.
I asked Jerry, later on, if he was really dancing to Elvis, and he always said the same thing, Elvis is dead, although Elvis wasn't even dead back then. I don't know why he had such a problem, I loved Elvis, Ralph loved Elvis, there's no shame in loving the King. But I wish I knew if he'd been dancing like I saw him, cause I wish I knew if it was real. Cause if it was, then Ralph didn't die for nothing... but there's something terrible out there, waiting. And if it wasn't real, then there's nothing to worry about, but my friend is gone and his death was pointless. But I can't find out now, cause Jerry ODed on cocaine in '76, and it's just me now.
I went on with my life, like you do, but to tell you the truth, I don't sleep well. I can't help but feel that, if I'm not careful, my soul will slip from my body, and I'll fall into the sky, and I'll hear that voice again, and maybe Ralph's voice too, part of the chorus now, demanding I obey, and I'll never come back from that tomb in those ruins.