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Trading Blood

 You've been given the soil, you've seen the seed planted, it's been watered with the promise of greatness and finally we burst forth from the Earth into space, resplendent. The Voices From The Umbra Organization has begun to grow. It's small, yes. Fragile, yes. But ready. Absolutely ready.

        Far from being an official organization at the beginning, what would become such an important facet of the human experience started as a rough study group dedicated to a singular set of ideas: that there was a version of existence that we were not operating at an advanced enough level to understand, that there were beings that lived on that level, and finally that those beings were attempting and succeeding in communicating with my Grandfather. It was also tacitly assumed, though not taken for granted, that these beings were attempting to interact in a positive manor, or at least the results of their communications so far had been positive.

        It might've remained a study group for much, much, longer, in fact, had a popular chemical drug of the time, psilocybin, not been introduced to the group. The drug-knowledge of the late 70's not being quite what it is today, the realm of psychedelics was primarily characterized by two camps: the For It's – who preached about the mind-expanding and universe-unifying properties of everything psychedelic, and the Against It's – who saw it as no different than any other drug, namely, a toxin that affected the brain in a negative fashion. Hippy culture in the Midwest being somewhat lacking compared to the coasts, it's easy to imagine that for both my Grandfather and the other male member of the group, it was quite a shock to have their friend show up with a small tin of caps and stems, along with an idea.

        The ceremony, for that's what it became, was different than most, as was the majority of life around my Grandfather, a trait he carries to this day. A small knife was produced, veins on the thumb were slit, wounds pressed together, and blood shared. Their bodies mingled with one another as the shields around their minds cracked and broke. The sense of ego death, the idea that you can place yourself truly in the universe, see how much of an impact you might have while still being insignificant, it was much like the total surrender the Voices initiated with their words.

        Memories of that special time and place are hazy at best, and don't exist at worst, except for as invisible guideposts, like many of the other memories we pass through our brain briefly. Peace and normality slowly took their place again, overcoming the intense effects of the drug. Senses returned, and each person began to meditate on their experiences even as they conversed in short sentences with one another. As one by one they were able to put verbal form to what had just gone on within them, they each knew they were stamped with the same message from the Voices, this message heard with their entire beings instead of merely ears and brain.

        Deep within their troubled minds and their abused bodies lay a connection to a source of positivity for the universe as a whole. Accessible to all, yes, it was so easy to see that once you attained it, but for those who hadn't yet awakened it might've been a million miles away. They began to understand, then, some of the power of the Voices, the ability they had to reveal what was already there, to showcase the deeper truths lying beneath the surface of the water we call Everything.

        It is here, once again, that we must briefly pause for an explanation. My Grandfather and his two compatriots at this point were not scientists. They were smart, they had wonderful intuition, they could wrap their mind around revolutionary ideas, but they didn't know the reasoning behind any of what was happening. It's one thing to feel something within yourself, to know that there is a piece of how you interact with the world that defies explanation because the words you have simply aren't enough. It's another thing entirely to have that feeling but also have the need, the desire, the overwhelming urge, to share what you've discovered with the world.

        It was clear that more bodies, more minds would be needed. These would have to be an incredibly specific type of human – someone with the brilliance to take science to places it had never been before, but who was also open minded enough to accept those things my Grandfather and his fellows had begun to take as Gospel. As anyone who has ever spent time with brilliant people is aware, (especially those brilliant people involved in the hard sciences), finding a combination of exceptional intelligence and open minded wonder would be much akin to a needle in a haystack.

        The difficulty and importance of these things are being explained because we want to impress upon you how important secrecy is in our work, even today. Scientists were eventually found, more than one, even, but they worked during the beginning of their tenure here in complete secrecy. A secrecy that went both ways, as well, for as much as my Grandfather and the two friends felt the need to play things very quietly in the beginning, so to did the scientists wish for anonymity in their work, not wanting to be ridiculed by their particular community. Nevertheless, over the next couple of years a team was put together, a schedule of part-time work was established, and the VFTU Organization was a step closer to what you know it as today.

        Funding was a major issue, even early on. Everyone seemed to agree that this work required secrecy and as such could not be “sold to the highest bidder in an open field”. Instead for the first year or so of it's life the VFTU Organization was entirely self-funded from the jobs of all of it's members. As the need grew for a greater budget in order to further the research, private donors began to be sought out. Eclectics, of which there are many in the Midwest, can occasionally be convinced to fund projects of righteousness as well as foolhardy errands and snake oil, and that is who made up the majority of the early donors.

        Of particular note is a person, only going by the name of WINDFALL, who left a sizable chunk of their estate to the Organization after striking up a conversation with my Grandfather at a bar. It was almost fate, for whatever that might be worth, as this person seemed to have no other motives but to assist. My Grandfather would pay them visits a few times per week, but they never asked to come to a meeting, didn't want to meet any other members of the Organization, and was completely unwilling to be publicly associated with this weird and secret science.

        WINDFALL was the first of the “big fish”, as they were colloquially known, people with deep pockets and open minds, quite probably willing to fund the idea of an idea itself, to say nothing about what that idea might produce. Others followed, and it seemed that once the money train got rolling there was always at least one solid financial backer, and always connected through my Grandfather, but WINDFALL will always stick out in our Organization's history, because of the tragedy surrounding their death.

        A prototype had just been developed, one that would provide the basis for the equipment that we now use to translate the Voices themselves into an audio format to present to the world. This prototype was not nearly as powerful or as accurate as what we have now, but it was light years ahead of anything we had been able to accomplish before it. My Grandfather had sound and voices from the Other-Earth, not clear, and we didn't know what they were just yet, but he had them, and he took them on a cassette tape to the address where WINDFALL lived, and found them dead in their house. A stroke.

        The Voices From The Umbra Organization has a small plaque commemorating the generosity of anybody that chooses to donate to the Organization in the way that so many have in the past. It's known as the WINDFALL Plaque. It's polished weekly, and contemplated often.

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